Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so." -- Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) (1818-1885)

I have heard this quote attributed to Mark Twain, and it has a Twainish ring to it, but the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says it's Billings.

UCLA back on track

I did watch the UCLA-Houston game Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, and especially at the energy the Bruins displayed. It looks as if Houston's record of being the nation's leading scoring team after two games was to at least some extent a function of playing pretty bad teams, but give the Bruins defense some credit as well. They're starting to round into shape, and the offensive line is playing surprisingly well too. I know UCLA recruits good athletes, and as I mentioned last week, Neuheisel UCLA teams have generally gotten better as the seas0n has gone on.

Maybe it's because this was the first game where he has been really healthy, but it looks to me as if we saw the Kevin Prince this week that the coaches must have been seeing in practice, at least a good bit of the time, or he wouldn't have won the starting position. Still room for improvement, but for the first time this year I have pretty good confidence that he's capable of improvement.

Of course Texas will be a tough test this week, but at least I have pretty good confidence that the Bruins will give a good account of themselves.

Treatment still on track

I haven't written much about radiation treatment because -- knock wood -- it's been largely without incident. Well, last Friday I and a bunch of other people were delayed because somebody ahead of us had an incident that required the paramedics to come and take him or her to the hospital. They told us about that much and no more details, but it delayed the schedule by about an hour. I pray that person is all right.

From my perspective, however, the treatment has been almost free of side effects, to a point that almost surprised the doctor when we had our weekly consultation today. I get a little fatigue -- tend to nod off while I'm sitting in my chair watching the tube or reading, especially just after breakfast -- but no nausea/vomiting, no constipation, only one incident of diarrhea, no itching palms and soles of feet, no itching all over. I think overall health is a factor, and I'm doing more therapeutic breathing and have started to exercise some every day

That said, it's fascinating just how much time and attention it takes to be a patient. I have to take my Nexium as soon as I get up, then can't take the Xeloda (chemo by pill) until two hours and a meal later. Take blood pressure and temperature quite a few times a day and take an anti-high-blood pressure pill if it's above a certain level (which it hasn't been lately). Sometimes I am late with a pill or measurement just out of being too interested in other things. You would think it would be simple and there would be plenty of free time, and it treally is. But it's all too easy to slip. So far nothing that has been dangerous or deleterious to the recovery process, but it does require a certain amount of attention.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, is the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." -- Genesis 1: 29-31

Yet government tries to eradicate one of God's herbs? What sacrilege!

A glimmer of hope?

During my illness and convalescence time at home I haven't even been reading an entire newspaper, every day. let alone three or four and several hours searching news sites on the Internet, so I don't feel as informed as I usually do. So I have been assuming that UCLA is almost a cinch to lose to Houston, the nation's highest scoring team, today. So I found it interesting that the Register's Scott Reid actually has UCLA favored to win, arguing that Houston's big point totals came against bad teams, UCLA has more at stake, and is better athletically than Houston, and Kevin Prince is fully healthy for the first time this season.

I certainly hope he's right, and he just might be. I've mentioned previously that Neuheisel teams tend to get better as the season goes along, to learn from and correct their mistakes. I'll be watching to see if that happens this week. I hope it isn't an exercise in masochism.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quote of the Day

"When the history of the first half of this century comes to be written -- properly written -- it will be acknowledged the most stupid and brutal in human history." -- Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961)

Sir Thomas was speaking, of course, of the 20th century. He is also said to have said, "A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sad days for Bruins

It's not that I was so depressed by UCLA's pathetic performance against Stanford that I couldn't even write, although I must say that it was a sour way to end what was otherwise an exciting day of college football. My absence from the blogosphere has had to do with little projects around the house and the daily radiation treatment that messes up the whole middle of the day. As usual it starts with the offensive line, but there was almost no aspect of the game at which the Bruins threatened to show much competence. I keep hoping that Brehaut will show something when he's given some playing time, given that Kevin Prince seems injury-prone and the team will probably need him sometime this season, but so far the mistakes have outweighed the good moves.

I'm somewhat encouraged in that Neuheisel-coached teams do tend to improve over the course of a season, and there's at least a chance the Bruins will be competitive -- or better than the 8th-place predicted finish -- when Pac-10 play starts in earnest. But almost all the other Pac-10 teams so far, except maybe Washington State, have looked better than UCLA so far. And going against high-powered Houston this week and Texas next week, the Bruins could be 0-4. I hadn't planned to be hoping for basketball season to start this early, but . . .

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." -- Isaiah 40:31

A promising football Saturday

It's a veritable cornucopia of college football. Penn State-Alabama. Florida State-Oklahoma. Oregon-Tennessee. Georgia Tech-Kansas. And topped off tonight with UCLA in its home opener against Stanford. (USC's playing too.)

I'm always concerned about playing Stanford. They generally play the Bruins tough and have better football teams than they have any right to have, considering the nature of the school. I think it's because they've managed to attract some fine coaches -- although Jim Plunkett, John Elway and Toby Gerhart among others were hardly slouches as players. UCLA didn't look good last week, although some of the problems had to do with Prince being out for much of fall practice and not having enough reps, which could be solved by the first game and this week in corrective practice.

When I was on the Bruins Freshman team -- back when they had a Freshman team that you could make if you didn't quit, though that didn't assure playing time -- before the Stanford game our guards coach, Red Cochran, assembled us and gave a little speech on how, as our college careers progressed, we would come to hate Stanford with a special hate. They call themselves the Harvard of the West, they think they're several pegs above ordinary human beings, they think their shit don't stink. So they deserve to be hit extra hard to have some of that snobbishness knocked out of them, etc. etc. We took the advice to heart.

As the years passed and I spent time at Stanford, with the Hoover Institution as a media fellow and at other events and conferences, I couldn't necessarily bring myself to love the school, but I couldn't hate it either. Few of the Stanford students I met quite fit the caricature. I've even thought of lobbying for a resident position at Hoover after I'm finished newspapering (if that ever happens) and spending my declining years there, though that seems unlikely.

No hate, just grudging respect and a bit of concern.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister."
Su Tung-P'o (1036-1101) -- poem
On the Birth of His Son

Funny. There's evidence that people in all kinds of cultures have known for a long time that government is institutionalized stupidity (with a little malevolence thrown in), yet we keep putting up with it, and most of us actively demand more of it.

Critiquing Music Choice

Another aspect of being pretty much confined to home during convalescence has been developing some familiarity with MusicChoice, the music channels provided by our cable service. I choose to find amusement in the fact that while there are about a dozen channels featuring what they call rock of various kinds to cover maybe 60 years of music development, there are only two "classical" channels to cover some 600 years of music. Ah, well. I suppose there are about 200 rock fans for every classical fan, so it makes sense to give the people what they want. The two channels are labeled "classical" and "light classical." Jen has gotten used to falling asleep to the latter playing very softly, so we've listened to it quite a bit. But it's not entirely clear what makes it "light" compared to the other.

From listening, I'd venture that the major differentiation is length. The "light" channel may play single movements of symphonies and concerti from about 1800 on, but not the entire work, unless it is one of those short sinfonias from the baroque or rococo period. I used to think of "light" classical as the kind of thing they would play in "pops" concerts -- 19th century opera and operetta overtures, short nocturnes, dance movements, popular program music and the like. They played the first movement of Mozart's 40th today, which I consider admirably "heavy." I don't think Mahler knew how to write anything light, but they've featured a couple of symphonic movements -- so long as they were about 7 minutes or less.

Such quibbles aside, I'm pleased they play so much Baroque, which is still my favorite genre, and that they have introduced me to composers I didn't know existed. Ever heard of Johann Friederich Fasch (1688-1758)? Not me, but his music is nice. I have heard of Cesar Cui as one of the "Russian Five" (with Borodin, Mussorgsky, etc) but had literally never heard any of his music before encountering it on MusicChoice Light. It confirms the impression of a skillful but not especially original composer. They play a fair amount of John Field, the "Irish Chopin," whom I had heard before but not much. Did you know there was a Christian Cannabich (1731-1798)? I thought I knew quite a bit about so-called classical music, and I do, but it's pleasing to think that there's always more to know.

The "Music Lover's Encyclopedia," edited by Deems Taylor and published in 1947, which I picked up in I'm not sure which used bookstore years ago, has been especially helpful in filling in information. It has essays with attitude, which I don't think is done, or not so often, these days.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Quote of the Day

"For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,
Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
Than women's are. ... "
William Shakespeare (or whoever wrote 12thNight)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Wine is as good as life to a man, if it be drunk moderately: what is life then to a man that is without wine? For it was made to make men glad." -- Ecclesiasticus 31:27

Hard to see how Bible believers can be complete abstainers and claim the decision is based on the Bible.

Go Boise State!

Today's/tonight's game between Boise State and Virginia Tech was a demonstration of why it is fun to watch college football sometimes. Boise State has long been a non-automatic BCS invitee whose record has suggested it ought to be included with the big boys -- the Alabamas, Ohio States, etc. But as a WAC member it's had to contend with strength-of-schedule perceptions and concerns. By playing #10 Virginia Tech, something of a perennial power of late, it put itself in a do-or-die situation -- win and be taken seriously, lose and not have a shot at the mythical national championship.

Well, Boise State came out strong, with Virginia Tech making uncharacteristic mistakes, and built a first-quarter 17-0 lead. But VT validated its own position and reputation by coming back and taking the lead -- twice. Finally Boise State had two minutes and a four-point deficit -- and marched down and scored a touchdown so quickly one wondered whether Virginia Tech would be able to score and with with 1:09 left. But Boise State's defense, which had been almost insuperable at the outset but had shown signs of fatigue, was strong enough to stifle Virginia Tech. Final score 33-30. Both teams did themselves proud, showing skill and resilience. A great game to watch.

My preferences in such match-ups are usually not strongly emotional but rooted in something resembling atavism. I tend to prefer the westernmost or southernmost team, so I wanted Boise State to win but would not have been heartbroken had they lost. In addition, I spent some time in Boise when researching my Ruby Ridge book and felt a mild connection. In eight years of living in Virginia in the 1970s, I don't think I ever got to Blacksburg.

A game that lived up to the hype. Love it!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A few complications

Yesterday I had the first inkling of a reaction to radiation, in the form of diarrhea. I took my pills with loperamide HCl and didn't have a recurrence. But it was surely related to the radiation treatment. I have no treatment over the weekend or on Monday. We'll see if this particular complication recurs when I resume treatment Tuesday.

Then late last night, I searched in places where they had been hidden and smoked a tobacco cigarette. I feel ridiculously -- or maybe not so ridiculously -- guilty about it. I had quit, and I didn't even feel that much of an urge, just a desire to inhale some smoke. Well, I may lapse again, but I feel that much more serious about not doing so.

Better next game?

Usually, when a team has trouble sustaining a drive, the most obvious problem is in the offensive line, and although I didn't focus as closely on the line as I perhaps should have (somewhat hampered by the fact that cameramen seldom stay with line play for long if at all) I think that's the main problem for the Bruins, who lost to Kansas State Saturday. It was also true that Kevin Prince, who, the commentators kept reminding us, had very few reps in practice because of an injury, was not especially sharp. He kept missing receivers by just a few inches or a foot or so. But he also didn't have very good protection. I winced every time he took off and ran with the ball, although he was fairly effective at it sometimes.

What any of this means for the future is difficult to tell. The Kevin Prince and the team just might start to click and be rather difficult to beat. But it also looks as if the Pac-10 will be very competitive. Based on this weekend's play USC and Arizona and Oregon State look pretty strong. I'll withhold judgment on the Bruins.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Bring on college football!

A few weeks ago it seemed as if it would never come, but college football season has begun! Of course my major interest is following my beloved but possibly -- we'll see how much -- beleaguered UCLA Bruins. I haven't had as much information from the newspaper as I usually get from reading the Register and other papers at work, so I don't have what I think is a realistic assessment of their prospects. I know only that Kevin Prince is the likely starting QB, expected to start though he had some kind of injury that kept him away from practice for a while. I hope Norm Chow's offensive schemes finally gel. At any rate, I'll be glued to the TV tomorrow at 12:30 PST. However it turns out, it should be more fund than watching the Chargers lose again while the homer announcers keep babbling as to how this is all to the good, it's toughening them up for the regular season.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Surprised by schedule

I have recently commented that with the advent and development of PBS, which was supposed to be a safe place for the highbrow in the arts, it is possible that there was more classical music on network television in the 1950s and early 1960s, before PBS, than PBS -- which has gravitated to the middlebrow and the pretentious, all celebrated as if doo-woop were the essence of high-toned art -- provides today. And now the networks feel no need to give us even a hint of the highbrow, since PBS is supposedly filling that niche.

I have to admit, however, that when PBS does offer classical music, they can still offer gems. I was preparing to watch yet another Angels game, even though their chances for the playoffs are vanishingly thing, when I was idly scrolling through the schedule for other channels. Lo and behold, on KCET, the LA PBS outlet, was a 90-minute show featuring Renee Fleming and Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorosvtny in St. Petersburg. Well, especially since like undoubtedly many males I have a crush on Renee Fleming, so much for the Angels. The show was charming -- some St. Petersburg travelogue and history with joint concerts in different venues -- and the music was superb, ending with the final scene from Tchaikovsky's "Eugen Onegin."

It was followed by the 13th Cliburn international piano competition. The trouble with competitions could be seen on the faces of the three (of six) finalists as the medalists were announced. They tried to look brave and unperturbed, but you could see deep disappointment on their faces. They had worked so hard and all were accomplished artists. The upside of competitions -- for listeners -- was displayed through most of the rest of the program. We got to know the competitors a little and got to hear a lot of wonderful piano music. I still get slightly upset when shows play only short excerpts of music, as much as I know you can't help it unless you're ready for a 12-hour program. After all, the finalists did several recitals, did a chamber music concert with a string quartet, and the played two different concerti by different composers. What a challenge! I thought they all met it well and I hope those who didn't get medals still get their careers jump-started.

Quote of the Day

"If I ever become a rich man
Or if ever I grow to be old
I will build a house with deep thatch
To shelter me from the cold
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung
And the story of Sussex told
I will hold my house in the high wood
Within a walk of the sea
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
Shall sit and drink with me." -- Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)