Empty Irons, Prize Filly

Empty Irons 06 08 .jpg Linda Sands, the department’s Administrative Assistant, also raises Quarter Horses. Early this month, Emma (her nickname) competed in the 2009 Iowa 7 Day Run in Des Moines. Linda’s explanation of Emma’s success follows:

Empty Irons, 4 yr old bay American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) filly by high point stallion Iron Enterprise, recently earned the title of High Point Open horse at the 2009 Iowa 7 Day Run in Des Moines.    She also won two circuit championships – the Green Hunter Under Saddle and the Open Hunter Under Saddle.

Emma has accumulated over 20 AQHA points in just a few shows, and our goal is for her to acquire her Superior HUS title (50 Pts) and to become qualified in Junior Hunter Under Saddle in time for the World Championship Show this November.  Emma is a 16-2 hand, quiet and elegant filly.  She is sweet and easy to be around, fun to ride also!   She has lots of ring presence with a big, sweepy and consistent stride.

Emma is trained byJoni and Craig Nelson, from Long Grove, IA.   They are doing a superb job in training and showing Emma.

See one of her winning rides.

Floating Blue Squiggles

Really! A week ago – on Wednesday, February 25 – my wife and I saw blue forms – not exactly squiggles, what artists call “biomorphic forms” – forms that suggest living shapes.We saw shapes suggesting the human form -glowing blue shapes – shift, glide, float, zoom in a dark space. These blue shapes glowed as they moved individually or in combination.

We saw a performance by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, an even in Missouri S&T’s Campus Performing Arts series in Leach Theatre. The company performed three pieces, each quite different from the other.

The first, “Sweet Fields,” choreographed by Twyla Tharp, used music from William Billings, the Shaker tradition, and Sacred Harp, a shape-note hymnal. The second, “1st Flash,” choreographed by Jorma Elo, to music by Jean Sibelius,

The third, Noir Blanc, is the one my opening paragraph deals with – a performance that is a culmination of movement arts over the last 100 years. (I’m thinking of Diaghilev and Nijinsky.) Those float blue biomorphs, were, of course, the dances of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. The skillful use of costuming and lighting gave the audience an experience difficult to represent in words. So I will stop with that; no, let me add that, if you have the opportunity to see this ballet company perform, I recommend that you do just that.

A Blue Violin: Homecoming

UMR‘s homecoming ends today, October 21. The weather has been cool, clear, and windy. Nearly perfect, depending on what one thinks of the wind.
My experience of the wind and of homecoming came on Friday afternoon at the departmental open house. Among the homecoming events were the departmental open house on the patio outside the Havener Center. Under a green and white tent, at the curve of University Drive, a beer and soda garden offered burgers, brats, barbecue, beers, soda — all the necessities for such a pleasant afternoon.
With the green grass of the Havener lawn, the crowds moving from place to place, the scene reminded me of William Langland‘s "fair field full of folk": an apt description of the scene Friday afternoon.
Not having anticipated a blog entry on this event, I didn’t take my camera or notes, so I’m reaching back a day and a half. My primary impression is wind and sun and glimpses of a woman with a blue violin.
Dr. Ed Malone and I carted the department’s display over to the patio along the front of the Havener Center. The departmental displays vary some, but basically, it is a panel about 3′ x 6’ that folds so there’s a large central panel with two smaller panels on each side. The side panels fold to provide stability and depth to the display. The main ingredient in the departmental open houses was the wind. The displays would not stay on the tables provided; some departments put theirs on the ground in front of the tables; some, like us, packed up their display. We did have some books authored by faculty members, copies of last spring’s departmental newsletter, and some brochures. These didn’t blow away (mostly).
A bluegrass band played around the curve of the Havener from us. I couldn’t see them well because of the pillars, but I did see a woman playing a blue violin.
The best part for me was a long conversation with one of our English alumna. She and her husband stopped at the table, and we caught up on a lot of things, mostly what’s happening with the department and with some of the older and retired faculty. Another alumnus, a friend of the couple I was speaking with, walked up. He got his B.S. here in 1967, the year I arrived. He and I have to be among the few people who remember John Brewer, who taught speech and who, we agreed, was the last gentleman.
There really wasn’t a lot of traffic at the department displays, but my time was well-spent. Despite my somewhat peripheral relation to homecoming, spending Friday afternoon in the wind and sun, talking with a former student, was good.

Harry Potter and the Sea of Stories

I’ve finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s a quick read, although I had to do it in numerous short sessions — 10 minutes, 15, maybe 20 wedged between other, more necessary things.
Summer school is finishing up; the fall semester doesn’t start for a little over two weeks; the halls are pretty empty. So I’m going to reflect a little on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (HPDH). Thee’s a mild SPOILER, so you may want to stop here. PDH is the last of a series of seven novels. (A series of seven novels must be a septology.) Seven, as you know, is one of the main symbolic numbers. More devoted Potter scholars than I can figure out the significance of that.
Human stories make up a tree or a sea, depending on your preference in metaphors. I’ve modelled the title of this post on the title of Salman Rushdie‘s novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories. J. K. Rowling has drawn heavily on the human heritage of story for these books. My response to the first book, like that of other readers, was that she hadn’t done much more than pull imagery and themes from a variety of stories, not all of them really compatible. Rowling’s skill with plot and appealing characters carried me past that response.
In book seven, Rowling goes deeper than the folk story motifs of giants and witches and enchanted objects, deeper than the "school story" genre into which HPDH fits. In some of the scenes, she reaches mythopoeic, archetypal depths — the depths at which our deepest fears, anxieties, and joys are rooted. The scene in which Harry and Ron retrieve the Sword of Gryffendor from a frozen pond, having been lead there by a phantasmal doe — that scene is worthy of stories as ancient as The Mahabharata, The Odyssey, or Gilgamesh. Spenser‘s Red Cross Knight could’ve made that recovery. (The link to the Knight opens a PDF file of Book III of The Faerie Queene.
HPDH doesn’t sustain that level of mythic intensity throughout, but there are enough instances to give the story strength and depth.

What’s in a Name Change?

"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
"By any other name would smell as sweet."
spacer.gif—Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

On 1 January 2008, the University of Missouri – Rolla will cease to be; Missouri University of Science and Technology will take its place. Chancellor John F. Carney III’s case for the name change can be found on this web page.
What happens when a name changes? The first principle to remember is that the name is not the thing (person, place, action, etc) that it names. We do tend to identify symbols with their referents, especially in the case of proper nouns. We load the relation of the name to the thing named with emotion and personal meanings. Into that gap between name and thing, we bring our associations, goals, purposes, feelings, needs.
Sometimes, a concern with meanings is dismissed as "mere semantics." Meanings are never "mere." For some, the change from UMR to MST will disrupt meanings; for others, the change will create new and welcome meanings.
Many aspects of the campus will not change with the name: the physical features of the campus will not change— sidewalks will not be rerouted, the buildings will remain where they are; while there will be some personnel changes, there will be no drastic shift of faculty, staff, curriculum, or students.
The name change will first of all affect perceptions of the campus. The case for the name change (linked above) lists and discusses areas in which the name change is intended to affect perceptions. Changing the name requires new signage, new identifiers on the Internet and elsewhere, publicizing the new name, and rebranding the campus. Through these processes, the new name, Missouri University of Science and Technology, will be solidly related to what it represents, and the gap between the name and the thing will be filled with associations, feelings, and purposes.
On a personal note, I changed my name twenty years ago. Folks who’d known me by my previous name experienced some confusion and puzzlement. ( I had to do a fair amount of rebranding.) People who’d known Eugene Warren got used to my current name, and many people have known me only as Gene Doty.

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