"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shoe leather journalism, and tornadoes

Shoe leather journalism should never be replaced by all the digital whiz bangs we have, and this report by a CNN journalist illustrates why--literal shoe leather work. A great piece of journalism, telling the stories of people. Thank you, and my it serve an example for what is the best of the best about the Moore tornado coverage. Read and enjoy.
"Walking the path of the tornado." https://www.facebook.com/terry.clark.900/posts/10200701002321368?comment_id=5367412&offset=0&total_comments=4&notif_t=share_comment

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lessons from out the "cat box," and a rap

Sophie and Snoops
Cats teach you a lot of things "unfeline," and as we've adopted two in the past couple of months, I'm discovering new metaphors for life, thanks to Snoops and Sophie. They're really my first cats, others having belonged to my children when they were growing up or Susan. The kids' cats seemed to meet untimely deaths, and Susan's died over the past two years, and while I was sort of tangential, they were never mine. I have been a dog person up until just a few years ago.
This new intimacy of having cats rather than dogs has introduced me to their habits, and while they're fun and cute and interesting and adoptive in their own ways, some of the main lessons have come from
... cleaning out the "cat box."
So far, these are indoor cats, not that I'm opposed to bi-habitual cats--in fact, I prefer that, as I do with dogs, but I've been outvoted. (If you're married, you understand)
Which makes the "cat box" a matter of daily worship, of bowing down to it with the appropriate genuflections of holding your nose, or your squeamishness.
These young cats are very active, bowel-wise, which surprises me because I'm very familiar with being more bowel-active as I age.
The cat box
Which means the "cat box" has to be emptied twice a day. Susan and I are supposed to split it, and we usually do. Hold your temptation to write a headline. I can outdo you since there are so many key words you can play off of, starting with poop, litter, sift, shit, couples, dump...the list goes on.
But that is not the purpose of this erudite exercise in evacuation. 
We use a box with a cover, in  the laundry room, which adds new meaning to the need for fabric softener, and the aroma of clean clothes. Susan insists in kitty litter that is fragrance free...yeah right.

We use a small sized spade-shovel with slots in it to drag through the kitty litter and scoop up the clotted colon processed remains, while the rest of the "kitty litter" sifts back into the "cat box." The awful offal--I love that play on words--goes into a plastic sack for disposal. It is literally, full of ... .
My thoughts while bowing over the "cat box," sifting through the poop....
I think first of all of my work and experiences that has qualified me to clean out the "cat box."

  •  I continually sift through statements from politicians, national, state and local, separating their poop from where it is amply deposited, noting that it's always presented positively, but still smells;
  • I am continually showered by TV weather people with their bloated language, seeking to find just the pertinent news:
  • I'm continually dumped on by TV cable channels with their self promotion and egos and protestations of being "fair and balanced." Poop is not fair and balanced, and it comes in all sizes, regardless of source, though some are more excremental than others;
  • I'm continually sniffing at TV and Internet advertising with their intrusive special effects odor --having sold advertising, I know how to shovel such stuff.
  • I'm continually barraged with PR poop in higher education, with its slogans and acronyms and flavors of the month, knowing that the messages are runny, without much substance;
  • I was continually soaked as department chair for years with edicts from on high for forms, new reports, some administrator's latest brainchild project, more cookie-cutter paperwork. None of it ever sifted through to help students and better teaching.
  • I 'm also continually having to sift through Politically Correct language from my government, interest groups, and more. Don't believe me? Why do we call it "kitty litter"?
Susan calls cleaning out the "cat box" as "farm chores." But at least when you're doing that, you know what you're doing, and it'll prevent a mess in the near future.
So do the cats. Go to the "cat box," and they sit nearby, waiting for you to finish so they can enjoy the freshness.
The cats and Susan are calling. My only rule is that I don't do it just before eating. I'm headed back to the "cat box."


Cat box blues rap
I don't know about youse
I got the cat box blues
Plenty of poop
to fit in the scoop
Sounds like life
I ain't being trite
I ain't bitter
I hate kitty litter
Sophie and Snoops
Lots of poops
It's just the pits
with lots of shits
I know what I knows
Hold your nose.

(Note--if you have other lessons from the cat box, comment below, I'll be glad to add them)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blog at 105 and 106--flags of Arab Spring

Two new readers' countries showed up today on this blogs' stats, and they follow a trend of African and Mideast-areas. This makes them more intriguing to me, as usual--Tunisia and Bahrain, become the 105th and 106th countries in the world with people who have clicked on this blog. Number 105 was from Tunisia, where the reader is among a population of over 10 million people in the relatively small country, the smallest in .
A fertile 800-mile coastline to the the  north of Sahara has main it a "granary" of Europe for centuries. You know it best for Hannibal of Carthage, the city funded in the Ninth Century BC.  He and others fought several was with ascending Rome, which conquered in in 149 BC. 
In the centuries since, it became a part of the Ottoman Empire, until the French invaded in 1881 and it was settled by thousands of French and Italians. After WWII, where it helped play an important role in the defeat of Rommel,  it gained independence from France in 1956, but the so called elections put in power one of the most repressive regimes.
The "Arab Spring" that rocked the Arab world began here in 2010 when a street vendor set himself on fire to protest confiscation of his wares and government humiliation. The protests continued with a 2011 overthrow of an autocratic president and the first free elections. Its democracy is evolving.
The flag is the red dating from the 1830s kingdom, and the star and crescent recalls the Ottoman empire.
Number 106--Bahrain, a large island in the Persian Gulf with several small ones, was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam in 628. There is a letter from Muhammad to one of the rulers. It has been occupied by the Portuguese, Persians and British. It declared independence in 1971, and declared a kingdom in 2002. In 2011, there has been a lot of sustained protests and unrest inspired by the "Arab Spring."
Nestled in a bay between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, an actual causeway connects it to the Saudis. Like its neighbors, it is rich in oil.

The flag is the red of the color of the Persian gulf states, The white on the hoist side is a band, with five points, representing the five pillars of Islam--belief, worship, charitable giving, fasting during Ramadan, and at least one trip to Mecca in a lifetime.
Below is a copy of the letter from Muhammad to the ruler of Bahrain, inviting him to Islam. Read the translation...notice the last few lines of tolerance towards others. Wow. 
I'm impressed, and honored to have readers from these countries with long histories.
"In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful: From Muhammad the Prophet of God to Munzir bin Sawa, may peace be on you! I praise God, who is one and there none to be worshiped but except him. I bear evidence to the oneness of God and that I am a servant of God and his Prophet. Thereafter I remind you of God. Whoever accepts admonition does it for his own good. Whoever followed my messengers and acted in accordance their guidance; he, in fact, accepted my advice. My messengers have highly praised your behavior. You shall continue in your present office. You should remain faithful to and his Prophet. I accept your recommendation regarding the people of Bahrain. I forgive the offenses of the offenders.
Therefore, you may also forgive them of the people of Bahrain whoever want to continue in their Jewish or Majusi faith, should be made to pay Jizia. Seal: God’s Prophet Muhammad"

Tornado shelters needed--a voice in the wilderness

Friend, colleague and blogger extraordinaire Dr. Kurt Hochenauer writes about what we must do in Oklahoma to mandate tornado shelters, in his blog, Okie funk, notes from the outback. http://www.okiefunk.com/
For years he's been a voice crying in the wilderness of Oklahoma about the need for shelters, without heed, as even more people die, most recently in Moore, again. 
Yes, his is a liberal blog, but where is the politics in not mandating shelters. Right wing, limited-government Oklahoma politicians keep saying no, all the while taking all those FEMA disaster dollars, third in the nation, per capita. Those are the facts.
Here's his op-ed piece in the Washington Post this week. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/oklahoma-needs-to-do-more-with-securing-buildings-from-tornados/2013/05/23/43e8aaee-c3d8-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html
How many more  children will have to die?

Another Navy veteran who influenced me

Dr. Ray Tassin, who founded the journalism department at what is now UCO, was my reporting teacher years ago. He served for years as chair until health and retirement forced changes. Ironically, I returned to chair that same department, But that's another story.
Tassin, was well,"Tassin," as graduates and friends would say. A WWII Navy vet, he'd laugh about shooting Japanese ships out of the water. He always had change in his pocket which he constantly jangled, while lecturing. He wrote some fiction, which as an undergraduate I read. An English major at the time, before I repented, I was taking journalism to qualify my teaching certificate, but he and Reba Collins changed my direction in life, though it would take years to come into journalism as a career. (I earned only a "B" in Tassin's class.)
But Tassin had the guts and gumption not to care much about what others thought of him. Part of that came from having his son die before him. I think that teaches you what isn't important, and much of higher education's pretentiousness isn't important. Tassin had no patience with it, and managed to alienate a lot of people on campus. He didn't care. There was no political correctness in him. He was an unabashed conservative and constantly criticized and dug at liberals. One I remember, said in public, was something like, "I'm not a liberal. I know who my parents are." Still one of his best friends was colleague Dennie Hall, an unabashed liberal. I'm so glad there are still such characters as Tassin in this world. We need more of them.
All of it was punctuated with profanity. In fact, I think the saying," Cuss like a sailor," may have been invented because of Tassin. One of the last times  I saw him in his wood refinishing shop, I asked him how he was doing. "Too old to do almost anything but cuss," he said. 
The last time I saw him was at the 40th anniversary of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, in April 2011 where we moved it into new quarters and rededicated it. I'm so pleased he could see how far it had come. He cut the ribbon.
 Ironically, I now direct the outfit. Forty years earlier he had founded it. Later that year, he died. His funeral  in Memorial Park Cemetery not far from here, was with military honors. The US Navy crest was on his casket.
  Home is the sailor, home from the sea. A Memorial Day salute, veteran!
Ray Tassin, in brown, cutting the ribbon at the Journalism Hall of Fame, with Dennie Hall in dark sport coat assisting, along
 with the other inductees , April 2011. shortly before his death



The veteran I knew best--Memorial Day thoughts

Because my Dad lost his leg jumping a freight train in Tucumcari in 1932, he did not serve in World War II. But three of his brothers did. Rex, Mike and Champ. Rex and Champ were in the Army, Rex in England, and Champ in the Aleutians. Mike joined the Navy.
It's uncle Mike who became my favorite uncle, me carrying his name as my middle name. He was the bachelor, the traveler. He sent me a balsawood, battery operated PT boat from Japan while he was serving in Korea. He taught me how to kick a football in Fort Worth. From me, he caught the mumps when we lived in Albuquerque. He showed slides of his travels to Machu Picchu and other places, working for the state department teaching English in Ecuador, Libya, Iran, Mali, Tunisia. He settled in Santa Fe, teaching at the famed Institute of American Indian Arts until retirement, making friends on all of the pueblos. Then as the years passed, we lost touch, until about 15 years ago  when I needed him most, his Santa Fe home becoming a place of refuge. 
Uncle Mike, Susan and I at La Fonda a few years ago
From him I learned much about my Dad and uncles I'd never known, in our long talks at the foot of the Sangre de Christo Mountains as the setting sun turned them purple and red, viewed from his porch. Sailor's tales of WWII and Korea added to my knowledge of history and family. We'd "run up the rooster," as he would say. A former signalman, the semaphore flag for cocktail hour was a rooster. Rum and coke, "Cuba Libre," would add to the flavor of the evenings.
Now his ashes are buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery. We buried him Nov. 10, 2011 in the place he had called home for 30 some years, just across the highway from his home, and within sight of the Sangre de Cristos.
I know this about veterans on this Memorial Day...all of them have rich stories, all of them affect more lives than they ever know. Saludos a los todos veteranos. Muchas Gracias!
Mike's view of the Sangre de Christos

A soldier's rest--Memorial Day, and a rose

The unusual gravestone stands out among all the rest of the uniformed stones at Santa Fe National Cemetery. My uncle Mike told me about year a few years ago, before he was also buried there Nov. 10, 2011.
Prone to wander cemeteries and emotionally involved with military cemeteries--both National and Confederate, I've wandered many, and written about them--Santa Fe, Fort Smith, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Manassas. Just search this blog for Memorial Day and you'll see.
I've photographed it in spring, when covered with snow. He's leaning against a tree, hat in hand, as if  wounded, dying. Once, there was even a rose draped across the soldier's lap.  New Mexicans don't forget their veterans..
The inscription is intriguing as well. Pvt. Dennis O'Leary died April 1, 1901, at age 28, 9 months. 
 Here's what the Santa Fe National Cemetery records tell: "A few private headstones are in the cemetery. The most unique marker is a sandstone statue over the grave of Private Dennis O’Leary. O’Leary died on April 1, 1901, at the remote Fort Wingate in northwest New Mexico. Originally interred at the fort’s post cemetery, his remains and marker were transferred to Santa Fe National Cemetery in 1911.  Local legend claims that the bored O’Leary carved the statue with the date of his death. On April 1, he committed suicide, leaving a note directing that the marker be placed over his grave. Military records contradict the story, citing tuberculosis as the cause of death, thus leaving the statue and the private’s death a mystery today."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oklahoma skies...of wonder and terror

My artist statement refers to the skies, quoting Willa Cather. I don't know how you can live in the Great Plains and not be enthralled.
And like others, terrified. Like my blogging friend Alan Bates of Tulsa http://www.yogis-den.com/ I was "thrown for a loop" by this weeks' storm...silenced, and depressed. Only by going back to what I know--media and teaching and art, could I finally try to write something of relevance. Then Nathan Gunther of Oklahoma Today, one of my editors, wrote this piece for CNN. Nathan nails it. Read it.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/21/opinion/gunter-okies-tornadoes/index.html?sr=sharebar_facebook

The blog at 104

From out of the blue, literally, came a reader from the 104th country to have hit on this blog.
I'm pretty good at geography, but I had to look this one up to make sure...
Mauritius...in the Indian Ocean, 1,200 miles east of Madagascar. For some reason, someone from that pleasant little island clicked in.
Here's what I found out...
The island was uninhabited when discovered  in 1507 by the Portuguese.It was the only home of the Dodo bird, which went extinct in 80 years. The Dutch settled it in 1598 and abandoned it in 1710. The French took over in 1715, renaming it Isle de France, and imported African slaves to run the sugar plantations. After Napoleon, the British took over, and abolished slavery in 1835, paying landowners two million pounds for the loss of slaves. They then imported a half million indentured workers from India to work ...gotta have slave labor, even if you call it minimum wage.
The country gained independence in 1992, with a parliamentary government, and about 1.29 million people on the main island and a few others, including 49 uninhabited. It ranks high in freedom, economy and tourism. The flag colors are for the blood of slavery, the Ocean, the light of independence and lush vegetation.
Thanks for visiting reader, and introducing me to another place in the world.

Tornadoes and media critics

Disasters, whether natural like our tornadoes and hurricanes like Sandy, or man-made, like Newtown, 911, or the OKC bombing, cause an eruption of instant and continuing media coverage. And immediately also, a deluge of media criticism.
That's how it should be.
My students, and social media like Facebook, are almost instantly alive with discussions, mostly negative, with how media, especially TV, is covering what has happened. It is the most likely lightning rod, though increased use of social media, especially twitter, also comes under attack, usually for inaccuracy and insensitively.
I'm no exception, and two days after the tornadoes simply could not watch. I'm usually ranting and raving about broadcast peoples use of words, like "violent tornado." (Ever see a non-violent tornado?) And I cringe even more as the event wears on about interviewing little children, and asking parents stupid questions with no regard for their situation. The demands of the minute-to-minute news cycle is much to blame of course, and in disasters, much early information becomes inaccurate because of the chaos involved. It's not a lot different than pre-digital times, only in much more quantity and much more obvious.
We're all media critics
Much of this comes from my association and work with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma http://dartcenter.org/ which tries to train journalists on how to work with victims and to help journalists with PTSD. This relationship began following the OKC bombing when we received a grant to start a Victims and Media course at UCO. It continues today. And we've held workshops to help journalists as well. Check out their site. The Moore tornado is at the toe of their page.
So I'm super sensitive, but contrary to much media criticism today, mine is not politically oriented. Following disasters like ours, politics have no place, and everybody in the state knows it, I hope.
That's why I could praise a national Fox news journalist Shepard Smith, for his solemn, calming narrative about the tragedy the first and second day. No hyperbole, no yucky emotions or trite sayings. Good journalism always stands out.
I also continue to contend  that local newspapers are critical to  coverage in these times. I see that in Oklahoma this week, saw it in New Orleans in Katrina, after 911, in OKC after the bombing, and in many other places. They give people a source, an assurance that there is still a normal world, a standard of hope and humanity that victims can cling to in their devastated communities.
So while we're all media critics, and  usually negative, tragedies like this bring out the best in journalism as well.

Tornadoes and twitter

Tornadoes take a terrible toll, physically and emotionally, more than can be measured. It is not enough to say there will be billions of dollars of damage. You can't put a price tag on the suffering, the shock, the trauma, the grief, the misery.
This week's tragedy in Oklahoma is only hinted at in photographs and videos. I've refrained from writing because I didn't think there was anything relevant or meaningful to say. Everyone has stories, everyone knows someone affected.
This is also the week that my twitter for journalists intersession class meets for two weeks, of intensive study. Much of the topic of the conversations in class with these 24 students has centered on the tornadoes this week. We've had speakers in, trying to emphasize the professional uses of the social media, but as one speaker said yesterday, my former student and media person for the Good Egg Restaurant group Sherry Guyse, @MyJRNY, the line between professional and personal blurs in social media.
One speaker, another former student, Heide Brandes, @HeideWrite, can't make it today because she's "stringing,"--freelancing for the Wall Street Journal--covering the funerals in Moore. That gig was set up in part through twitter.
Other speakers have been Mike Sherman, sports editor for The Oklahoman, @MikeSherman; Dave Rhea, managing editor and digital media guru for The Journal Record, @jdaverhea; Desiree Hill, broadcast professor, @DezHill; and Jessical Miller-Merrill, HR maven, @blogging4jobs.
Traditional journalists, like me, sometimes have trouble with the significance of twitter's 140-count messaging, but we've learned it's essential in so many ways in journalism, PR, advertising, and more in the professional communications world.
The tornadoes have added a grim illustration of practicality to the class. More on both later, but I'm asking class members to comment today, one thing they've learned about this infectious social media, twitter.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The blog at 103 countries--Africa again

About the time I think this blog has reached its limit geographically, readers from a different countries hit on it, and that happened twice this week, both from Africa. Earlier this week, someone from Ethiopia did so, and then yesterday, someone in Ethiopia's southern neighbor, Tanzania, scanned these posts, marking the 14th African nation to be counted.
Considering that there are about 196 "countries" in the world, with 192 as members of the UN, I'm fascinated. There's another blog post coming on the world's countries.
When I was growing up, the main part  of Tanzania was called Tanganyika, and an  island off the coast carried the exotic name of Zanzibar. With the gradual elimination of colonization in the 1960s, the two countries emerged from British control to become Tanzania in 1964, combining their names. Its flag is a combination of the two flags.
As with most African countries, the area lost independence to European countries. Imperial Germany conquered it to make it German East Africa along with Rwanda and Burundi, but after WWI, it became a British mandate from the League of Nations. British rule ended in 1961. Before the Europeans, under a sultan's control, it was the center for the Arab slave trade, with more than half the population sold into slavery in the 1800s. 
But Tanzania is better known for two facts. It is the home of Africa's highest mountain, the volcanic Kilimanjaro, at  19,341 feet--which makes it the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
It is quite possibly the birthplace of mankind, according to fossil discoveries in Olduvai Gorge, where pre-human ancestors lived about 2 million years ago, and homo sapiens has been dated there to 17,000 years ago. The people are not primitive--about 2,000 years ago, they invented a type of steel from a blast furnace
Today the country has a population of more than 43 million, with 80 percent rural, and more than half under 15 years of age. It, like Nebraska, has a unicameral legislature,  with 343 members. Interesting to me is that it has a five-level judiciary combining tribal, Islamic and English common law...proving they can work together, in spite of Americans', and some Oklahoma legislators', fears of Sharia law.
The flag--green for natural vegetation, yellow for rich minerals, black, the skin col, and blue the lakes, rivers and Indian Ocean.
As with all of these visitors from far away, I'd sure like to know more...so many stories. So much imagination. I so wish I could see Kilimanjaro, and Olduvai, and say I'd been to Zanzibar. Wouldn't you? Thanks reader.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A year ago...Alaskan wonder land

Arriving at Juneau Airport
One of the  glaciers  at Tracy Arm Fjord
Exactly a year ago today, we landed in Juneau, and stayed at the Capitol Inn Bed and Breakfast, across the street from the Capitol. In the morning, we departed for a most of the day tour to see Tracy Arm fjord and glaciers. I know we only touched the hem of this great wilderness, but still, it was a trip of a lifetime. If I was younger, I'd be trying to move there. So few people, such vastness. I'm hooked.
Mankind is so small, Alaska so huge, and the earth so magnificent. Even after a year, I think of the wonder that we met every day, every minute. It is part of  the earth not yet dominated or controlled by man, the way it was before we "civilized" and overpopulated the place. The lessons of Alaska are astounding, and free the spirit from the everyday world. It makes you so aware that you won't pass this way again, so enjoy every moment, every scene, every meal, all the people.
You can check my multiple blog posts from last year with lots of photos by searching "Alaska" in the sidebar at right. Here's the link to the itinerary:
clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2012/05/alaska-itinerary.html
May 16, 2012...Sue and I at the glacier, listening to the groaning of the ice, and ice scraping against the hull.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Old, and Biblical, and on the blog at 102

About the time I though the reach of this blog was over, a new reader from the 13th African nation and 102nd country to have readers hit on this blog.
Ethiopia, one of mankind's oldest regions, if not the oldest for homo sapiens, should also be familiar to Jews and Christians alike, referred to in the Old and New Testaments, as well as in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.  Heard of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon? She was Ethiopian. Read of Phillip preaching to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts? Not only is the country old, it has a long history of Judaism and Christianity. It's been a  monarchy most of its life since well before Christ.. And until the last 20 years, the symbol of the Lion of Judah was in the middle of the flag, the emperors claiming direct lineages from Solomon and Sheba.
It's also a country that has been plagued by politics, wars, famines  and droughts throughout its history. No wonder prehistoric man decided to migrate away.Now home to 84 million people, two thirds are Christian and other religions, and one third Muslim. It was a major power in the third century and the first major empire to adapt Christianity as the official religion.
When Europe set about pillaging Africa, only it and Liberian maintained independence. Invaded by Mussolini's Italians in 1936, it was eventually freed by the British in about 1943. When the colonization of Africa began ending in the 1960s, many new states used the Ethiopian flag colors in their flags. After legendary Emperor Haile Sallasie was deposed, the Soviets and Marxists took over until the collapse of the USSR. A new constitution and flag were adopted in the 1990s, featured a multiparty system. Continued wars, droughts and famines continue to plague the country and its politics.
Today's flag colors date to 1889, and were adopted after defeat of Marxists in 1991. The blue represents peace, the star represents diversity and unity, and the sun's rays symbolise prosperity. The green recalls the land, yellow stands for peace and hope, and red is symbolic of strength.
I don't know who my reader from Ethiopia is, but welcome, and thank you. Don't suppose that this is a backward country however. When I was privileged to travel to Mali in 2007, one of the few airlines serving Bamako, other than Air France, was Ethiopian Air. We were fortunate to have their flight attendants staying in our hotel. I quickly decided I liked these friendly people, and talked with them and got authgraphs. Can you see why?
Ethiopian Air flight attendants




Thursday, May 9, 2013

The blog at 101

The country defines remote. And somewhere, there's a new reader of Coffee with Clark, bringing to 101 the number of countries with readers here.
Today, a reader from Mongolia showed up, raising more questions and story possibilities for me. How in the world...?
When I was growing up, there was Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, the inner being part of China. After all these years, there's now only the former Outer, now Mongolia. I know more about this country because I've had a student from there this past year, a smiling, intelligent young man about to graduate. He's from the Chinese Mongolia, but has relatives in the country to the north. His presentation on Mongolian Media was a highlight of my International Media class in the fall.

History

It's most famous in the west because of Genghis Khan who founded the Mongol Empire  in 1206, and continued under his son Kublai, dominating China and central Asia. Tibetan Buddhism conquered the country in the 1500s, and then it was ruled by a Chinese dynasty until its collapse in 1911. It gained independence in 1921 and wasn't recognized until after WWII, and then the USSR took over, making it a satellite state. With that collapse in 1989 the country declared independence again, elected a multi-part parliament and turned to the market system. 
Mongolia is the most sparsely settled country in the world, with only about 3.5 million people, (the size of Oklahoma  in an area bigger than our entire Great Plains) almost half of whom live in the capital, Ulan Bator. Its harsh country and weather makes it a natural for about 25 percent of the population who are nomadic. It is indeed remote, with mountains to the north and the Gobi Desert to the south, bordered on all sides either by Russia or China.It's the second largest landlocked country in the world. About 20 percent of the population live on the equivalent of about $1.25 a day.
Its flag, adopted in 1992,  carries blue for the vast sky, and red for the harsh climate and country. A yellow symbol, the "soyombo,"  represents the four elements and the Yin/Yang.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Notes on a graduation note under the door

The small envelope had been slipped under the door of my office when I walked in today. It was addressed to "Dr. Clark." I opened it, to find a note from a graduating student.
Saturday, I'll attend another UCO graduation, watching students march across the stage and have their names read, while parents and families and friends yell and clap. The students will smile, pose for photos, and walk briskly off stage, some holding their diploma covers high. All will be smiling. 
Out of the hundreds in that room, I will know about 50, like the note writer, as former students in my classes over the past four or five years. Most of them I know by name, and for a large portion, I know their personal stories and trials, and their hopes and plans for the future. 
Yes, I'll be wearing my "funny hat," and academic regalia, and the faculty will march in to the gym to "Pomp and circumstance," down the aisle between the already seated students. We'll take our chairs in front of them, and then, after the national anthem and a few introductions and short speeches, they'll file past. Many will catch my eye, and smile. I clap for my students when they do get their degrees, giving thumbs up when they see me.
After graduation, they'll gather out on the lawn, meeting family and friends, and a few will want their photos taken, and I'll meet parents, family, finances or spouses for a few. Then it will be over, but it's not, because many will stay in touch, some becoming friends. A few will graduate to calling me "Terry," while others, even decades later, still call me   "Dr. Clark." 
I get a few cards and presents every year from appreciative students. I don't think they know how much I appreciate them though.  I treasure the time with these students, their energy, their hopes, their futures,  and I'm enriched by the time I spend with them, helping them on their way. 
That's why teaching keeps you young,  even though their youth reminds you how old you are. 
To be a good teacher you have to like students, to see their potential, to allow their individuality, to not give up on them, and to be a demanding encourager. And when you succeed, the rewards are unexpected and treasures, like notes slipped under the door. 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Morning on the Llano Estacado, Texas

Watercolor, inspired by corner post near by daughter and family's house near Canyon, Republic of Texas. 11 by 22, 300 pound d'Arches paper. Photo at top of this blog.

Life is like coffee

Shared by friend Sherri Ward.

Drink deeply.

http://www.flickspire.com/m/iaaw/lifeislikecoffee

Monday, May 6, 2013

Blog favorites on the birthday

At Black Mesa, March, 2012
Those of you who read this blog, which is now five years old, know I have some favorite topics.
Watercolors, art, traveling, New Mexico, books, family, trains, writing, a little religion. So as I started looking back over these 48 months of blogging, several articles and postings stood out. Here are my favorites.
My favorite--Best writing, humor, mingled with fun and tears--"Booth is a verb--A Love story," which stretched to more than 10,000 words in several posts over two months in August and September, 2009. Here's the link to the first episode, http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2009/08/booth-is-verba-love-story-prologue.html
Travel--lots of these but three are my favorites. First was a tie-- several posts about the USS Abraham Lincoln sailing from San Diego to Everett Washington in April 2011, thanks to former student and officer Steve Curry. When I was summarizing travel since the blog started, I left this out, and should have listed "Pacific." Sorry Steve. Here's the link to the opening post of seven about that "Pirate Proof Cruise" as I called it. http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2011/04/tiger-cruise-part-one.html.
I'd be hard up to rank it ahead of several posts a year ago this month, on our trip to Alaska...one of the items on my bucket list. Here's the first of 13  posts  in May and June with photos and video and writing. Here's the first link: http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2012/05/alaska-itinerary.html
Also at the top of the list, or near it, was the flight I took on a WWII B-17 bomber on D-Day, 2010. Brother in law Jim Henry and I each paid $300 for the flight over Oklahoma City. They wouldn't let me bomb Republican headquarters, but the posting includes video as well as photos. What fun for a fan of WWII aircraft. Here's the link to one of about four related posts that month: http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/search/label/B-17
Other favorites in travel included the trip to India, in March 2011, and to hike Black Mesa in Oklahoma in March, 2012, each with several posts and photos.  http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2011/03/flight-timeindia-journal-thoughts-i.html
http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2012/03/to-top-of-oklahoma-and-back.html
Then there are other blog favorites, like humorous conversations with God on tenure, heaven's bar, and church services--check the months of Feb., 2010., Oct, 2011 and July, 2012.
Too many paintings, book reviews , photos and family history, and New Mexico to share. Yes, it's multimedia, but after all these years, it practices what I preach...you have to have good writing first. Thanks for reading. More to come.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Blog birthday--five years!

Hanebutt, Clark, Hickman--in May, 2009

Five years ago on this day, in the  transition from long time department chair to becoming just a faculty member, I started this blog. not know where it would go, or if it would survive. I was changing offices and roles and identities. I'm not really sure why I started it, and I knew the odds were against it being a long-term project. Basically though, there seemed to be a lot of bottled up writing inside of me because being a department chair drains you of time and energy and creativity.
In that first post, I wondered if I would be among the five percent of the millions of bloggers who keep going. http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2009/05/march-3.html

The numbers

Since then the blog has changed from just writing to more, and I've posted 1,063 times, including photographs, paintings, videos and more--which is remarkable in that I've kept at it. There have been a few droughts, but that still averages out to about five posts a week in the 206 months since May 3, 2009. 
As with most blogs, this one started off with lots of activity and then evened out. In 2009 there were 339 postings, including 76 in August and 70 in July. The total dropped to 292 in 2010, and 135 in 2011, but rose to 203 in 2012.
For a while this year, I was posting almost every day, till a trip to Germany interrupted, but this is the 94th post of the year.
When you consider that Technorati reports  of the 30 million plus blogs in the USA, only 11 percent post daily and 27 percent weekly., that's not bad for this old newspaper man. In fact, one friend commented appropriately on this blog: "You've got your old newspaper column back."
The other number I'm really intrigued by, and proud of, is that even with only 155 official followers, I have readers in 100 countries.

The passing of time

So what has happened since this blog began, that has influenced and affected it?
  • At the top of the list is the birth of two grandchildren, Neysa Elaine Clark in 2011 and Barrett Bryderick Clark in 2012. There have been two deaths, my uncle Mike in 2011 and my oldest cousin, Charles Rogers Lutrick in 2012.
  • I've traveled to India and Germany.
  • Domestic trips we've made have been to Alaska, San Francisco, Seattle, Savannah, Charleston, Florida, California, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Amarillo, East Texas, Columbia, Missouri, Colorado, and multiple times to my beloved New Mexico and Santa Fe. Oklahoma trips have been over many backroads, plus to the Osage, Tulsa, Norman, Guthrie, Bartlesville, the Oklahoma Panhandle and Black Mesa, and along old Route 66.
  • My painting has flourished with a few paintings sold, three art shows and two years of displays in a Paseo gallery.
  • Articles written have included nine in Persimmon Hill, two in Oklahoma Today, 48 monthly columns in the Oklahoma Publisher, and more than 20 articles for the month I worked as a reporter for The Journal Record, in May 2010.
  • My teaching has changed with developing new courses--Blogging for Journalists is every semester. There's also been  International Media, Twitter for Journalists, Media Leadership, plus my old standby, Feature Writing.
  • Two awards came my way. The OkieBlog Awards named this the best writing award in 2009, and in 2011 the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists awarded me its Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • We had two cats when the blog started--one is referred to in that first post. They've died, and last month, we adopted two more cats.

Time goes by.

What now?

Clark this year
I don't know, but I want to take this blog to "the next level," whatever that means. I expect in this next year to switch from Blogspot to Wordpress, to give it a more professional appearance and more options for design, etc. I want to increase the number of followers and grow more of the audience, and perhaps find a way to start bringing in money from advertising, etc. This will be difficult, because most blogs that make money are niche blogs, very focused in certain areas, and Coffee with Clark isn't...but it's still a goal.
I've become fascinated with blogging  in journalism and keep learning. I was going to cite more statistics on blogging, which has really grown over the past five years by millions around the world,--more than 170 million, not counting perhaps 70 million in China. 
I also wanted to list some of my favorite articles. But this post is about to get too long, and those will be  subjects later this month.
So, thanks for helping me make this blog a success, and celebrate its fifth birthday.

"That's what's brewing in my coffee pot."


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Booth is a verb--Unpublished chapter


(In honor of the Thursday end-of-semester Boothing, written in 2009)
"Let's Booth!"

That was the cry one afternoon soon afterward, and the journalists did congregate once more that spring, where hung the plaque.

"To Bob," rang out to clinking glasses, and stories and tears did flow. But The Clark left The Cribbage board in the office, and one seat was vacant.

Summer came and was a blur, but the following fall, The Clark thought about retrieving the plaque and displaying it in the department. It was not to be.

Forsooth, he went to the restaurant, and found the business closed, and the plaque and The Booth locked up. He was sore vexed.

"The Booth is no more," he despaired to his colleagues, to their dismay and gnashing of teeth. This was the same time The Department merged with another on campus, doubling its size in faculty and students for the good of the students. Verily that stress also was a shock to the former journalists. They seemed to wander in a daze, trying to find who they were. They'd lost a friend, a Booth and a community in one fall.
There was no Booth to booth to.
Eventually, they tried other gathering places in Edmond (There be Republicans there), but it was not the same. The was no booth to Booth to. Even some of their new colleagues from the other department joined them, and began hearing tales of The Illidge, who they knew by sight, but not by stories. "To Bob," was still the introductory toast, but it was not the same.

One day The Clark noticed the old Booth location was being remodeled, and he hastened there, seeking The Plaque, only to be forbade to enter. He considered breaking and entering to rescue the artifact. The next day he tried again, describing the item he sought, and was successful in bringing it out, to be displayed in the office of the Queen Bee.

But still there was no Booth to Booth to. The faculty tried the new restaurant at the old location for several weeks, but still it was not the same, and heavy with ghosts. Eventually, The Clark, because he got paid the big bucks to do such things as an administrator (forgive the profanity and pray for his soul), found a restaurant a mile away that had a booth.

Boothing was back, and over the years the numbers of people attending swelled. Teetotalers, assistant deans, broadcasters and communication profs and others from the merged department frequented the location, usually on Thursdays, to joviality and the best of collegiality. All were invited and welcome.
All newcomers heard the story of The Illidge. All toasted, "To Bob." All waitresses at the new Booth knew each of the Boothers and their drinks and food preferences, and always greeted them with great joy, because yea, verily, there weren't like other stuffy professors, and they did tip grandly. Talk was about everything, and rarely about work, but about people, and ideas, and yea, even griping seasoned by laughing about The Illidge, and how he was probably keeping Yahweh in stitches with his humor.
Where there is sunshine, someday there will be clouds.
But where there is sunshine, there will someday be clouds, as the Psalmist should have written. One recent year, one insecure and bloated Recalcitrant who never attended The Booth did disapprove and complain to Mission Control, though the Booth was ecumenical and all were invited. Recalcitrant spoke with ignorance and arrogance about The Clark and his "cronies." Hence did insecure and bloated Mission Control complain to The Clark that he was making departmental decisions in a "bar."

Clark was floored by the blasphemy, not about decisions--which were never made there because adult beverages wash away the inanity of academic decisions--but by disparaging The Illidge and The Booth. While it was a temporary setback, it only strengthened the bond of The Boothers, and, pun intended, "got their Irish up," assuring their belief in The Booth, a faculty retreat from thus proven inanity of higher education, from the vagaries and vicissitudes of life.

Yea verily and forsooth, today, Booth is an active verb. The plaque will soon be hanging on the wall when they Booth again.

-30-

P.S. Only journalists know the significance of the -30- and it carries a double meaning here. To read the epilogue, written by a student after Bob's death, go to the September post on the blog. 

Where "Booth" is a verb, "To Bob"

Yea, verily, a fair number of colleagues, some fair, some fairer than others, and some, like The Clark, not so fair, will "Booth" tomorrow, honoring the close of the semester.
For those of ye gentiles who may be ignorant of the ways, and the story of the booth and how booth is a verb, The Clark will tell you that the first toast of the evening will  be "To Bob," co-founder of "The Booth" in 2002. Friend, colleague, worthy cribbage opponent, and heart of the old Journalism Department, Bob Illidge died eight years ago, and is since toasted and remembered with laughter and stories and tears every time we "Booth," and often when we don't, as long as there is a nearby "adult beverage" as he would call it.
The official plaque of where Booth became a verb.
But forsooth, those few words begin not to tell the tale of the Booth and its influence. Four years ago, The Clark, exiled to the isle of the University Center, did by direct revelation, set down a witty, complete story of "The Booth is a verb, a love story." Thou canst read all if it, fifteen chapters plus prologue and epilogue and interludes on this blog, beginning August 9, 2009 and continuing every few days through September, 2009. The Clark is proud of this essential history and look at what is important in higher education, both because it helped Coffee with Clark win the Best Writing Award in Oklahoma blogs that year, and mainly because he loved doing it to honor his friend.Here's the link to the prologue:  http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2009/08/booth-is-verba-love-story-prologue.html
The booth location tomorrow matters not, other than at Cafe Bravo in Oklahoma City, but it is only the latest in several, because time is fleeting as are bars, Since the "First Booth," the location of Boothing has wandered like the Israelites in the wilderness, as the colleagues sought refuge and salvation from  the wilderness of campus inanitiess like rubrics, points, assessment, syllabus police and other nonsense.
And so to to whet your appetite to perhaps peruse the entire Booth story, the next post is an hitherto unpublished fifteenth chapter, the conclusion except for the Epilogue.

Thunderhead warning


"Somebody's getting it." 11 by 14 watercolor, 300 pound Artistico paper