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Global Lives and Local Perspectives: New Approaches to Tibetan Life Writing

Global Lives and Local Perspectives was the second largest collaboration between two research clusters of Wolfson College: OCLW (Oxford Centre for Life Writing) and THSC (Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Centre). In 2012, Wolfson College hosted the conference Beyond Biographies: New Perspectives on Tibetan Life-Writing; convened by Professor Ulrike Roesler and held in collaboration with OCLW, the meeting had the merit of attracting attention to the rich tradition of biographical writing within the Tibetan literary corpus by placing Tibetan biographies and autobiographies within the broader context of life writing across the world. New avenues of interpretation and understanding were advanced at the time, and, by taking our cue from that, we proposed to slightly enlarge the focus of the analysis to embrace other forms of indigenous life writing, such as journals, memoirs, songs, oral testimonies, and personal narratives, as they are documented in Tibetan historical, poetic, legal and religious literature, as well as on social media.

In the course of Global Lives and Local Perspectives, new approaches to Tibetan life writing had been proposed by the speakers. Whereas it is undisputable that biographies and autobiographies are at the core of the Tibetan practice of recording memories and experiences of the self, it is also clear that such a label crosses over and includes diverse genres and forms, thus opening the field of investigation to different analytical means.

Biographical and autobiographical writing can be used, for example, as a source of information about social, cultural, and political history, as demonstrated by Dr Franz Xaver Erhard and Rachael Griffiths. Through the eyes of the authors, modes of identity construction come to the foreground, thus allowing for a better understanding of the different ways in which Tibetanness was, and still is, expressed. It has been reiterated throughout the workshop that the role on self-perception by the socio-cultural and historical milieu should not be underestimated; individuals are in fact urged to adhere to specific kinds of personhood, that is to say behavioural models considered to be socially acceptable. Dr Marta Sernesi, Miroslav Hrdina, and Sangseraima Ujeed presented contributions describing the edifying character of rnam thar, and the importance given to the observance of precise schemas in the portrayal of the life of an individual considered to be “exemplary”. Interestingly, it is the analysis of the themes and structures of these texts that makes it possible to gain a new perspective on rnam thar, the most popular form in which life writing was carried out in Tibet. Tibetan biographies also provide interesting information about the biographers themselves, so much so that sometimes the real value of these works lies not in the amount of details about the life of their characters, but rather on what the authors or the compilers reveal about their understanding of both their own identity and the socio-cultural environment they lived in, as shown by the presentations of Prof. Per Kværne and Dr Lewis Doney. Furthermore, the recording of life-stories of remarkable individuals was not a perfunctory implementation of a traditional practice; rather, Tibetan authors reflected on the issues of literary theory, developing indigenous explanations regarding the worth of their compositions as well as proposing new ways of narrating the self.

If the importance of biographies and autobiographies for social and cultural historians is clear, the perils of considering these works as mere deposits of dates and names should not be forgotten. Life writing, in all its forms and expressions, is a literary manifestation, and as such it deserves to be considered and discussed. The literary value of autobiographies, journals, and memoirs affects the surrounding society; the creation of a relationship between the work and its audience may lead to the negotiation of issues of exemplarity and legitimacy, as illustrated by the case-studies brought by Prof. Per K. Sørensen and Lucia Galli. Personal recollections may shed a new light on past events, improving our understanding of controversial historical periods, as the decades of the 1940s to the 1960s certainly were for the Tibetan communities along the Sino-Tibetan borders as well as for those living in the central provinces of the plateau, as showed by Prof. Heather Stoddard, Dr Lara Maconi, and Xénia de Heering.

What has been said so far applies not only to biographies and autobiographies compiled in pre-modern times, but also to new forms of individual expression, such as social media, blogs, and instant messaging apps. Creating the self in the moment is a feature that we ascribe to modernity. Technology provides us with the means to immediately share small personal stories, updating our identities constantly though multi-semiotic forms. But writing on the spot, recording the ebbs and flows of the mind, is indeed a rather ancient practice; diary, personal journals, travelogues are all instances of what can be defined as life writing of the moment, jotting down impressions as well as reflections on the self and the other. The contributions offered by Prof. Charles Rambles, Dr LamaJabb, and Dr Theresia Hofer broached the issue of “fragmentary” selves and how it is possible to reconstruct a personal identity by putting together snapshots of life as they appear in legal documents, poems, songs, or instant messages shared on social media platforms.

These are indeed exciting times for those working on Tibetan life writing. The field is ripe with possibilities. Not only the past may be looked at with different eyes, but also the present, and more importantly, the future, all reserve new and unexpected ways of studying and comprehending the ever-evolving Tibetan identity. We planned to collect and publish the contributions to this workshop, with a sincere hope that the study of Tibetan life writing may continue to thrive and develop.

We would like to express once again our gratitude towards those who have made this workshop such as successful event: Oxford Centre for Life Writing (OCLW), Ti se Foundation, Wolfson College Academic Committee, Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Centre (THSC), and the Linying Foundation.

Lucia Galli and Franz Xaver Erhard (Conveners)

Photo by Nadja Friesen (CC0 1.0)

I can’t find the “Less” in the Middle of so much “More”.

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Ive not written much since I have been home from my Fulbright experience in Finland where I became the champion for the Finnish concept of Less is More.  The truth is I quickly realized that I couldnt make the Finnish less work in the middle of all of the American more. Within weeks of returning from Finland feeling fresh, rejuvenated and free of business, I found myself more committed, more scheduled, and more stressed than ever before.

I got completely sucked back into the outrageously busy lifestyle of the Typical American.  When I returned I was simply too occupied and drained mentally and emotionally to write.   I didnt have the time, energy or the stillness required to produce good and thoughtful writing.  The days of my peaceful and quite Finnish lifestyle full of self-reflection and introspection were over.  They were replaced with days of my to-go-coffee, 10-minute lunch breaks and penciled in meetings.

Forgetting everything I loved and observed in Finnish classrooms, I fell right back into the swing of the American teacher lifestyle.  Each day I have 192 students, 7 classes and high expectations and demands.  I became consumed once again. I was putting in 12-hour days filled with grading hundreds of tests and assignments.

I quickly realized that the Finnish mentality does not work in our American schools. I tried some Finnish classroom ideas on my students.  I tried to ease up on the homework assigned.   I tried to adopt the less is more concept to my teaching and my classroom, but it did not work.  Our Society has created a structure that is too integrated with our competitive culture for the Finnish mindset to be effective.  My 7th grade students didnt know how to adapt to a school mode based on less structure, less competitiveness and less formal accountability.

And if I am being honest, I didnt know how to adapt my teaching either.  It took me all of three hours back in the school setting to feel the weight of the substantial curriculum I was expected to cover in a year.  I forgot how much our 12-year-old students were required to learn in only a few short months.

I soon understood that a Finnish pace was not going to cut it in our results-centric culture.   If I want my students to succeed in our society I would have to pick up my pace.  I would have to do more, not less.  I am ashamed to admit how quickly I relapsed back into the nasty American obsession with testing and results.

At the end of the day, the heart of the American spirit is competition.  Those who succeed in this country have worked the hardest and have pushed themselves to their highest levels. They really have done more, not less.  As teachers we are expected to demand excellence from our students and push them to compete to become the best.  This mentality is non-existent in Finland but also impossible to remove from American education.

Our students are truly remarkable.  What we expect and demand from them really is too much.   They have 7 to 8 classes a day, homework, sports practice, violin lessons and are also expected to get straight As and maintain a normal social life.  These are impossible standards for most adults, let alone 12-year-old kids.

I often feel guilty about pushing them so hard. The new standards expect my 7th graders to think and reason like PHD students. I am expected, no demanded, to lead them in that thought process regardless if they are developmentally ready for such advanced level thinking. The standards seem impossibly high.

Yet I am reminded  daily that I preparing them for an American work force that demands and expects too much of them as well.  It is our culture.  It is our identity.  Heck, It is the American dream.  We taught to believe that if you work hard enough, and do and accomplish enough you will eventually rise to the top.   The top of what and for what nobody knows. But the top is the best. Right? Maybe Not.

But this mentality exists so permanently in our culture that trying to remove it completely from the classroom would do our students a disservice. If they are going to succeed in our society, they have to learn to cope in high stress situations.  They have to learn to aim high and work hard.

As Finland demonstrates, this ultra competitive results driven philosophy on education is not necessarily the best method. I really do believe in the Finnish mindset of Less is More. I stand by what I wrote last spring. The problem is that until we change the societal expectations and our broad education systems, this Finnish mentality will not work.   The state, nation and even the parents of my students demand I push students to reach their fullest potential. I am not a good teacher unless I get them to work hard and push them to be their best.

In the United states we do not teach to the middle (the universally achievable average) as Finland does.   Instead of teaching to the middle like Finland, our standards aim for the very top level of possible performance.  We put expectations that are so high that only a select few are capable of reaching.  The result is we have a group of truly elite scholars and a group of those left in the dark.   Education mirrors society and while we are very good at getting a big group of students ahead in life, we also leave behind those who cant cope with our demands and expectations.

I had huge hopes to remedy this sad truth.  But I failed miserably.  I tried to incorporate the Finnish mentality I had observed in Finland to my classroom.  However I, being American through and through, soon felt like I was failing my students. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was a bad teacher for not pushing and challenging them to think more critically, do more problem solving and cover more content and problems.  I really felt like I was not doing my job and that they were not learning enough. And so, like a fraud, before I knew it I had abandoned my mantra and dove headfirst back into the More is More mentality.

I simply dont know how to make the Finnish mentality work in the midst of our American system of high stake testing and competition.  And so I remained silent.  I stopped writing.

I have lost the Finnish Less in the middle of all of the American More.

I am not sure how to find the less here in the midst of the swamped, hectic demands of our society.  And in some ways I enjoy my teeming American More abuzz with excitement, engagements and achievements.  And at the same time, there are days I yearn for Finnish simplicity and quiet calm.

And so I am stuck here in the middle struggling between two conflicting philosophies.   I understand both sides of the road and I am confused on how to best navigate. I believe in everything I stated before, Finnish success really is based on the Less is More mentality.

I simply dont know how to function as a Finn here in my American classroom or in my American life.  It feels like a fight against a strong current.  Right now I dont have the answers, I really do feel quite stuck. In the mean time I will try to find a way to incorporate a little more less in this world of so much more.  Until then, I am here writing my thoughts and trying my best. Thank you for listening.

'He caused the death of a human being': Jean-Philippe Tremblay's lawyer says he is not looking for acquittal

As many Montrealers might already know it is tough to get a hotel room during Grand Prix weekend.

The Formula One race draws many tourists from around the world and, a jury in a murder trial was informed on Monday, its popularity caused a delay in a murder trial.

Superior Court Justice Sophie Bourque mentioned this to the jury hearing the trial of Jean-Philippe Tremblay (accused of murdering Montrealer Pina Rizzi) while explaining why they were not required to sit for the past two weeks.

Bourque said there were legal questions to settle (outside of the jurys presence) during the first week and then, last week, she had to delay the trial after being informed that there were no hotel rooms available in Montreal if they jury was to be sequestered last week.

We didnt want to put you on a bus for three hours to get to (an off-island hotel), Bourque told the jury.

The judge also informed the jury they will likely be sequestered this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Martin Latour began making his closing arguments to the jury Monday afternoon with a blunt admission.

Mr. Tremblay is not asking you to acquit him. That is out entirely, Latour said after telling the jury they only have three verdicts to choose from: first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter.

He caused the death of a human being.

Latour disputed the Crowns argument that there is evidence the homicide involved a sexual assault which can be part of a first-degree murder conviction when it does not involve premeditated planning.

Tremblay was arrested in 2013, a few years after Rizzi was killed.‎ While being interrogated by a Montreal police detective he admitted that he killed Rizzi but said he was not fully aware of what he was doing. He told the detective that Rizzi insulted him because he could not perform sexually after they had met downtown and headed to a shed behind a company on Notre Dame St. E.

Tremblay said Rizzi invited him there for sex but he lost interest while they were inside.

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While summarizing the evidence, Perreault reminded the jury that Rizzi drank tequila at a bar before she met Tremblay and the autopsy revealed she had consumed cocaine before she was killed. She also noted that Tremblay claimed during the interrogation that it was Rizzi who made advances toward him.

However, Perreault said, any question of consent was completely broken when Rizzi left the shed and then, minutes later, was obviously dragged back inside by Tremblay. Images of Tremblay dragging Rizzi back were captured by a security camera posted above a railway track leading to the Port of Montreal.

During the interrogation, Tremblay claimed that Rizzi pulled him back into the shed and demanded he have sex with her. ‎The images captured on video do not support that claim.

Perrault highlighted other parts of the evidence that suggest Tremblay told other lies during his interrogation. One, the prosecutor said, involved Tremblays claim that he covered the windows of the shed shortly after he and Rizzi entered it. The video footage shows him covering the windows two hours after Rizzi was dragged back inside it.

You are free to take what you believe from the interrogation, Perreault said. But dont forget that for the first six hours he denied having killed Mrs. Rizzi. He swore on the lives of his daughters.

pcherry@postmedia.com

twitter.com/PCherryReporter

TheoryFest update

[Guest post by Sanjeev Arora. Action items: register, book your hotel and flight, and consider submitting a poster.]

ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing Is morphing this year into a 5-day Theory Fest, as announced earlier. This is going to be a new and exciting kind of event for the theory community, with talks covering a larger set of topics, and many more opportunities to learn new things and to network with colleagues. Registration is now open and the early reg. rate is very low, considering that the event now stretches to 5 days. For more details, visit the conference webpage.

Early registration deadline is May 21; Hotel Reservation deadline is May 19.

Event highlights

103 STOC talks in 3 parallel sessions.Three keynote speakers: Orna Kupferman (Graph theoretic methods in verification), Avi Wigderson (Nature and Future of TCS), and Knuth 2017 Winner.Three tutorial speakers (2 hours each, in parallel): Julia Chuzhoy (Graph minors and algorithms), Russ Salakhutdinov (Deep learning), Aviv Zohar (Cryptocurrencies).15 Plenary short talks, including the STOC prize-winning papers and 11 other papers selected from a host of “theory+” conferences and journals. Areas represented include databases, programming languages, machine learning, networking, computational economics, security, and theoretical physics.1-hour panel discussion on “Theoretical CS: The next decade” moderated by Anna Karlin, and with the following panelists: Cynthia Dwork, Russell Impagliazzo, Ankur Moitra, Dan Spielman, Tim Roughgarden and Andy YaoEvening poster sessions on Days 2 and 4, where a total of about 150 papers will be presented. Out of these about 50 are those that appeared in other theory+ venues (the deadline for being considered is May 1.Five exciting workshops on Day 5, touching upon machine learning, continuous optimization, mechanism design, PCPs, and Sum of Squares algorithms.

As you can see, it is going to be a fantastic event. It is brought to you thanks to the hard work of several dozen people (listed here), plus hundreds of STOC reviewers. Please come to Montreal to see the amazing event they’ve put together!

Theory Fest 2018 will be in or around Santa Monica CA June 23—27, 2018. We welcome other theory meetings to collocate, or at least choose a date/place close to theory fest.

See you in Montreal!

Hot days

Sun thats baking hot.

Air thats hot, where even the breeze is too.

Clear blue skies.

Running your hand through tall dry grass.

An insect buzzing by.

As you walk down a dusty stone path, life is good, sunshine makes us feel alive, you drink some ice cold water to refresh yourself.

Hot days are special, summertime energises us.

Simple things of a sunny day are what makes life magical.

The Perseverance of Sound: Part II

SayWhatClub (SWC) is pleased to welcome guest writer and SWCer Justin Krampert who shares his story of hearing loss, how it has affected his music, and what it has taught—and continues to teach—him.  Part I of this series appeared on February 21, 2017.

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By Justin Krampert

“I didnt decide to become a musician until the age of 15, which is quite late.” ~ Evelyn Glennie

At 15 years old, my parents insisted I try a new, digital, ITC hearing aid.  Inside, I hated it…the way it felt, how lopsided I felt I heard, the way it sounded, everything.  It was assumed that I was wearing it at school, but I just didn’t.  High school offered, “Related Arts” classes and we went through Art, Music, Writing, etc.  I quickly found that I connected deeply to writing poetry and to group guitar classes.  I was a very early reader, which helped my love of literature and especially poetry.  The first time I held a guitar, I knew deep inside that it was the instrument of my calling.  The few months we got to study were frustrating, because I wanted to be able to play well so quickly, and getting my hands to cooperate with what my mind heard, was always a task in patience and practice.  I was absorbing myself in bands like Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Alice In Chains, Dream Theater, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Type O Negative, Testament, Joe Satriani, and my favourite guitarist, Steve Vai. 

In the New Jersey winters, I shoveled driveways to save up for gear.  My first acoustic guitar was a beat-up classical from a family friend.  My first real electric guitar and amp was a used Ibanez GX20 and 30-watt Crate amp I bought off a friend in my guitar class, who had bought a better guitar for himself.

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Music dork, 1995 – enjoying some Jazz chords (looks like an A13 to me, haha)!

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1996 – jamming with friends at summer camp!

In my junior and senior years, I was very fortunate to take a music theory/composition class with one of the music teachers at the high school, open to a select few.  I soaked up as much knowledge as I could, and wrote small guitar pieces along the way.  I learned about some notation software.  I played in a couple bands and we performed during school shows.  It always gave me a rush, being on stage.  Sure I was nervous, but I was young, inspired, and ready to play.  All this time, however, I kept my hearing loss a deep secret.  After my teachers found out about it at my IEP meetings, I started wearing my long hair down to cover up the fact that I wasn’t wearing my despised hearing aid. 

Throughout this entire time of learning to play guitar, I did so without any hearing aids.  I lived in my denial, even though I knew subconsciously that I wasn’t hearing like everybody else did.  When graduation rolled around, while other rich kids got cars or other insanely pricey presents from their parents, I wanted a guitar.  I had my eye on a certain Fender Strat (cue Wayne’s World guitar store scenes!), and right before graduation, my dad took me to Victor’s House of Music in Paramus, NJ, where I beheld the beauty that I would nickname, “Goldie,” in dedication to our kind, supportive homeroom and photography teacher, Mrs. Goldweber. 

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“Goldie,” my Fender 1968 Strat Reissue (made-in-Japan, 1999)

My University years, I felt, were most productive, inspiring, and creative.  From 1999 – 2006, I kept studying guitar, music theory, and composing.  I put my whole hearing loss history behind and reinvented myself.  I performed bi-weekly at our newly established on-campus coffeehouses, reading my own poems, jamming with friends, and playing my songs.  I really got into some serious guitar study, learning Jazz further, bits of Classical guitar, and just enjoying the good, open years of being a college student.  My hearing loss, I felt, wasn’t so much of an obstacle…but I bluffed a lot and would miss out on dialogue, just letting it slide instead of asking for repeats.  I started joining in the drum-circles, learning techniques from percussionist friends and teaching myself other aspects.  I went out and bought my first drum, a Remo Earth Djembe.  I really liked drumming, because it was even more tactile than guitar.  It was loud, and I wasn’t as concerned about a drum being so out-of-tune as apparently a guitar would be (drums tend to hold their tuning for longer periods of time than guitars do).  Rhythms would start simply, then build, they would remain constant and steady, more easily accessible to my hearing loss.

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2002 – Drum circle!

On my musical-and-hearing loss journey, though, I continued to keep it a secret

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Filed under: Deaf-Blind, Deafness, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, music, Musicians with Hearing Loss Tagged: coping strategies and hearing loss, Deafness, Hearing aids, music, Sound

The Perseverance of Sound: Part I

SayWhatClub (SWC) is pleased to welcome guest writer and SWCer Justin Krampert who shares his story of hearing loss, how it has affected his music, and what it has taught—and continues to teach—him. 

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-1-22-27-pm

By Justin Krampert

“Music is about communication 

it isnt just something that maybe physically sounds good or orally sounds interesting;its something far, far deeper than that.”
~ Evelyn Glennie

Emerging into the world at eight weeks premature, 2lbs. 2oz, my miniscule body could literally fit in the palm of your hand. I was supposed to be born on Halloween (of all the nifty days!), but I was a Leo instead of a Libra. The universe obviously had a much different scheme in mind for me. Not escaping unscathed, my sight was permanently affected by Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). I had a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) surgery to repair a hole in my heart, which left me with a long, gnarly, Frankenstein-esque scar up my torso’s left side. And lastly, the very small bump atop my skull reminds me of the life-saving yet ototoxic drugs that were administered.

One of my earliest hearing loss memories was at 2 years old, climbing the re stairs at hospital, and then having a small room of intimidating doctors put a strange cap with wires and contraptions on my head. But, it was painless and over before I knew it. I was already wearing glasses, when at five (or was it 4?) years old, I received my first hearing aid…a Siemens BTE for my left ear (which had a mild-severe ski-slope, high-frequency hearing loss), and my right ear, which only had a mild loss, did not get a hearing aid. I remember the audiologist being a nice lady who sat me in the tiny booth with headphones, listening for the beeps and words. The day when she put the hearing aid on me, she fiddled with the volume and tone controls, saying, “BAH, BAH, BAH!” into the microphone as she set levels. My mum secured the apparatus to my glasses with a piece of yarn, every day. Thus began the foray into semi-bionic living. With my new, “ear”, elementary school included speech therapy to help me pronounce my ‘s’ and ‘sh’ sounds, and ‘m’ and ‘n,’ which sounded exactly the same.

At nine years old, we began learning instruments in music class. The music teacher, however, was not much of a empathic person, and once, when I tried to advocate for myself by asking if I could move closer to see and hear better, she scornfully sighed, saying, “Oh, Justin, relax!” Up unto this point, apparently, I had been a carefree, little self-advocate, politely asking people to please face me when talking so I could see their faces. I withdrew from speaking up for myself for many years to come. I did not ask for closed captions, so I know I always missed parts in shows and movies. It was the first time where I began to form a philosophy in life: I realized that we should want to help people (and their accommodation requests) when we can, doing so genuinely. I also began feeling ashamed of my noticeably different ability status and wanted to hide my hearing loss. My first formal music experiences were disheartening ones, unfortunately, and even my parents decided for me that if I wanted to try guitar lessons at a young age, that my hearing loss would impede learning or enjoyment.

So, I went through elementary and then middle school, not wanting to play anything remotely music-related. I did however, begin to find music that I could enjoy, close my eyes to, and felt completely free to allow myself the catharsis of my imagination whilst listening. I had my own little cassette Walkman, and would put the volume up on the old foam headphones so I could hear it. My eclectic tastes in middle school ranged from the first Enigma album, to Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, to even some rap. Respectively, I enjoyed the ethereal textures, the distorted guitars and winding riffs, the visceral tones, and the piano parts and drumbeats. I always had difficulty with understanding lyrics, so the instrumental part of the music was and is still, the first thing that catches my attention.

Middle school years are described by most as being pretty rocky, and my obviously thick glasses and ugly hearing aid made me a target of continuous ridicule. Back in 3rd grade, I got a Siemens ITE hearing aid, as my parents felt it would be less noticeable, but with my very short hair, it just stuck out even more. My hearing took a noticeable drop, but I denied and tried to fake hearing better. In 7th grade, I made the choice to secretly stop wearing it, as it would squeal and I would be totally unaware of its high-pitched feedback. My only indication of it malfunctioning was classmates looking at me, pointing and laughing. Luckily, I had Dawn, a fellow classmate, to gently tap me on the shoulder and point to her ear discreetly, so that I could fidget with it, while she chided others for their immaturity.

Interestingly enough, despite trying desperately to hide my hearing loss during my middle school years, I found an ASL class that met weekly, which I attended for a few years until it disbanded. I enjoyed it immensely, and even earned my ASL interpreter badge in Scouts. At the time, I knew I wanted to go into some kind of helping profession when I grew up, but despite even being discouraged (because of my low-vision and hearing difficulties) from becoming an EMT or Paramedic by some family friends, I still wanted to find a way to help others. I was quite inspired to actually go to college at Gallaudet, and become a teacher of the d/Deaf. Then music found a way back into my life as I was going into high school

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-2-56-17-pm-1Filed under: Deaf-Blind, Deafness, Hearing Loss, Musicians with Hearing Loss Tagged: coping strategies and hearing loss, Hearing aids, music, Sound

McNuggets: Collins in the mix as defensive back with Riders

SASKATOON — Murray McCormick’s musings from Day 9 of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ training camp at the University of Saskatchewan:

• The experiments continue with Riders head coach and general manager Chris Jones switching a veteran receiver to defensive back. Ricky Collins Jr., who had 48 receptions for 720 yards and two touchdowns last year, was practising with the defensive backs on Monday. Collins gave most of the receivers he was covering a big cushion, even though he told Jones that he had played some defence in the past. Last week, Jones switched Joe Craig from receiver to defensive back and he remained in that role on Monday.

• The moves make sense considering the Riders’ glut of receivers. It appears the starters will be Naaman Roosevelt, Duron Carter, Bakari Grant, Rob Bagg and Caleb Holley. If veterans like Collins and Craig can’t crack the starting roster, why not see if they can play defensive back? The Riders need help in the secondary and they might find a hidden gem among their receivers. The switches can also help the Riders deal with injuries in the defensive backfield.

• Glenn Love and Thomas Mayo came within an eyelash of the biggest hit of training camp. Mayo had just caught a pass and was turning upfield when Love closed quickly from his linebacking position.Love pulled up just in time to avoid a major collision with Mayo, who nonetheless limped off the field after what turned out to be a glancing blow. Mayo later returned to practice.

• The Riders’ acquisition of offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski from the Toronto Argonauts for receiver Armanti Edwards is paying off. Dyakowski was acquired for depth and leadership. The depth side has come through while left guard Brendon LaBatte nurses an injured foot. Dyakowski has stepped in at left guard and the offensive line hasn’t missed a beat. That’s in contrast to 2016 when a training-camp injury to since-retired right guard Chris Best threw the line into disarray.

• Murray’s Monster on Monday was tailback Anthony Allen, who re-signed with the Riders on Friday. Contact is limited during training camp, but Allenwas still able to exhibit his power running during drills and scrimmages. The Riders need a tailback with Kienan LaFrance on the limp (hamstring injury) and the release of Daniel Thomas (concussion). Allen, who has averaged 5.6 yards per carry over two-plus CFL seasons, can also contribute on special teams. That versatility has to give him an edge in a bid to be the starting tailback, even though he was a late arrival to training camp.

• Roosevelt is once again among the receiving stars at training camp. In 2015, he was among the team’s best receivers, only to spend the first eight weeks of the season on the practice roster.He went on to finish the season with 25 receptions for 488 yards and five touchdowns.In 2016, Roosevelt picked up where he left off, leading the Riders in catches (76) and receiving yards (1,095)despite missing the final seven regular-season games with a torn right meniscus. He hasn’t shown any ill effects from the off-season surgery and still seems to catch every pass that is thrown his way.

• Defensive end Johnathan Newsome practised Monday for the first time since being sidelined early in training camp withundisclosed injury. The Riders lost another defensive lineman when tackle Ese Mrabure was helped off the field after suffering a foot injury on Monday. There wasn’t an immediate update on Mrabure’s status.

mmccormick@postmedia.com

twitter.com/murraylp

Rock Climbing Legend Achieves The ‘Moon Landing’ Of Climbing By Scaling Yosemite’s El Capitan Without A Rope

[#News] Alex Honnold becomes first person to Free Solo El Capitan called the Moon Landing of climbing https://t.co/AsyWorNCJm pic.twitter.com/R403hI2jgF

SAGER (@SARL_SAGER) June 4, 2017

Arguably the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport was accomplished on Saturday after famed climber Alex Honnold became the first person ever to free solo the 3,000-foot granite wall in Yosemites El Capitan. No ropes. No safety gear. Just his favorite red shirt, favorite breakfast (oats, flax, chia seeds, and blueberries),  and possibly an imbalance in the part of the brain responsible for fear. For perspective, that climb eclipses the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Amazing pics of #alexhonnold #elcapitan free solo. Tom photographs climbers through a telescope https://t.co/MIc4ICk0cC @jimmy_chin photo pic.twitter.com/I161X1q4YK

Shay Har-Noy (@iheartcrowds) June 5, 2017

The 31-year-old climbing prodigy ascended the peak in 3 hours, 56 minutes, but Honnolds training for this feat dates back for more than a year. The UC Berkeley dropout climbed at locations in the United States, China, Europe, and Morocco, according to National Geographic. This past November, Honnold made his first attempt at the free solo, but opted out after less than an hour of climbing because conditions did not feel right.

Peter Mortimer, a climber who has made numerous films with Honnold, was shell shocked by his colleagues half mile achievement.

What Alex did on Moonlight Buttress defied everything that we are trained, and brought up and genetically engineered to think. It’s the most unnatural place for a human to be.”

Hannolds accomplishment is, as one world famous climber put it, the ‘moon landing’ of free soloing. Only two other climbers have publicly said they seriously considered itone drowned and the other died in a base jumping accident before each could attempt.

alex-honnold-half-dome-yosemite-free-soloing-no-rope pic.twitter.com/qMO7ZOmTjk

Erick de Js. Ramírez (@ingerickramirez) May 18, 2017

As National Geographic reports, the route to the top of El Capitan has 30 sections and is so difficult that even in the last few years, it was newsworthy when a climber was able to summit using ropes for safety. During the four hour climb, Hannold had to tiptoe across ledges the width of micropenises and even dangled in the open air by his fingertips.

Although there are some climbers alive who can match up to Hannold physically, no one is even in the same stratosphere in dealing with fear management. He is such a savage that neuroscientists have studied the parts of his brain related to fear to decipher how they differ from normal humans.

With free-soloing, obviously I know that I’m in danger, but feeling fearful while I’m up there is not helping me in any way,” he said. “It’s only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and leave it be.”

Although Hannold kept his climb to a selective group of friends, he enlisted longtime climbing partner Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi to capture footage that will be made into an  upcoming National Geographic documentary film.

Ya, I think Ill tune in for that one.

[h/t National Geographic]

Cycling Towards A New Mythology

Just before I reach work there is a wavy path that runs through this greenspace in the middle of suburbia I cycle through. Imagine, if you will, its 4:30 (or so) AM, and its late fall. Though the darkness obscures the path, I have come to know it as well as the lines on my own face.

My new bike light flashes, illuminating the shadow of my elongated wheels. The wind of the ride brushes my cheeks and tickles my neck with its early morning caress.

I started cycling to work this last June, and have ridden my lovely, rambling Rose almost every day since.

Today I ride to work not just to save money, or convenience, so much as for the freedom. That 30 minutes is like meditation. My mind is cleared of thought, as I reach that winding hill that marks the half way point.

Over the months Ive conquered that mere incline, and never get off my bike, and trudge up, as I did at the beginning. Now, my lungs are strong, my heart pumps jubilantly in my chest as I crest it. Thump, thump, thump, breath in, breath out, and I coast for a bit, and my mind finally clears, and real joy flushes my cheeks.

Pure bliss washes through me.

If youd told me this was how Id be getting to work, even just last year, I would have called you a crazy ol coon. Me? Riding a bike to work? I dont have the knees, my smokers lungs have been battered and bruised, my heart is not up to it, or so I thought.

Yet, in the beginning, I just hopped on and started riding. One day at a time. And every week I inched my time down, bit by bit. Day by day.

Now, 5 months on, I am devising a way in which I can continue through the winter; taking it day by day. I spoke to the friend who gave me Rose, and he has a Mountain Bike he can fix up for me. Dear Rose is too lovely, her tires too thin and delicate, to be subjected to the harshness of a Canadian Winter. I would not do that to her.

She has seen almost as many winters though as I, and spent the last 5 of them outside, subjected to the harsh elements. It rusted her gears, her chain, and some of her chrome is not what it was. So my friend polished off as much of the rust as he could, and from bits and pieces of another bike of the same vintage replaced some of the most tattered bits.

Truly, though, it is her colouring I believe that first caught my eye; being a lovely aged jade.

Last week I realized something. See, once I reach the almost there point, I turn onto that winding path through suburbia, and every time, I look up. And there in the sky above me hangs the constellation Orion the hunter.

This week I noticed it was now just a bit more West than it was.

Things have changed.

Now when I look at Orion, all I can see is this giant butterfly hanging in the sky. The butterfly is a symbol for Palliative Care. I realized that it hangs directly over the path, as the days made their way through those last 8 days of October. Fifteen years ago we watched my Mom die, and 4 years ago on the 18th, Tim died, and 8 days later I posted my first post to this blog.

So, as the Northern lands await the snow of winter, as the temperatures dip and I add another layer, day by day, my mythology changes. From a hunter towards the wings of change, cocooned within for so long, the darkness lengthens the night, and I ride, I glide, I look up at the stars and I am grateful.

” data-medium-file=”https://thetemenosjournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/nanopoblano2.png?w=600″ data-large-file=”https://thetemenosjournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/nanopoblano2.png?w=600″ class=”alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-26039″ src=”https://thetemenosjournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/nanopoblano2.png?w=322&h=322″ alt=”nanopoblano2″ width=”322″ height=”322″ srcset=”https://thetemenosjournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/nanopoblano2.png?w=322&h=322 322w, https://thetemenosjournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/nanopoblano2.png 600w” sizes=”(max-width: 322px) 100vw, 322px”>Filed under: Life Tagged: #cycling, #NaBloPoMo, NanoPoBlano2016