June 2011 Archives

Steven Roemerman is seeking the Republican nomination for the Tulsa City Council District 7 seat being vacated by John Eagleton, according to his press release:

Steven+Roemerman-240px.jpgTulsa resident and republican, Steven Roemerman, today officially announced his candidacy for Tulsa City Council District 7, the seat currently held by John Eagleton, who earlier declared he was vacating the seat.

"I love Tulsa and deeply feel the needs of the people," says Roemerman. "My goal is to help forge a future for Tulsa that my children and their children will be proud of. Guided by my strong conservative principles, I will work with the Mayor and the rest of the Council to do the people's work at City Hall."

Asked about his top priorities as councilor, Roemerman says he wants to reduce the size of the budget by creating new efficiencies that reduce waste, enact fair zoning laws that foster economic growth, invest more in technology, and create a balanced budget that better meets the needs of the citizens. But, above all, he says, he hopes to usher in a new age of civility when it comes to working with the Mayor to enable the city to prosper.

"I believe elected officials must be able to work together regardless of personal feelings," says Roemerman. "If I'm elected to office, that is what you can expect from me--a willingness to work with others and build trust in our city's leadership. I pledge to be honest and open, relentless in my pursuit of growth and prosperity for Tulsa, and firm in my conservative values and principles."

A resident of Tulsa since 1998, Roemerman is a graduate of Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri where he studied Computer Science and Biblical Studies. He is currently a Sr. Programmer at Avis Budget Group. He has been married for 13 years to his wife Stacey and has three children. The Roemermans live in Hampton South neighborhood in Tulsa and are members of Carbondale Assembly of God.

"There's nothing more personally important to me than helping Tulsa grow and providing a place of opportunity for the next generation," says Roemerman. "I know I can do a great job for our city and will work hard every day to make our city's future one that we all can be proud of."

Roemerman currently has a seat on Tulsa's Sales Tax Overview Committee, where he reviews and reports upon the expenditures of Tulsa's third penny sale tax and bond programs. He has been an active follower of The City Council, frequently attending meetings and speaking before the council both as a member of the STOC and as a concerned citizen. For more information about Roemerman or his campaign, go to www.steven4tulsa.com.

I've known Steven for several years now. He's kept a close eye on city politics. He has a good understanding of the issues and a heart for public service. I feel certain that he has the political courage to make decisions in the best interests of Tulsans, even when powerful, well-funded special interests are pushing in a different direction. I'm very happy that he's running, and I give him my wholehearted support.

Steven doesn't have a huge organization or a big bankroll behind his campaign, so I'd urge you to contact Steven Roemerman, pledge a financial contribution of any amount and volunteer your time and talents to help him win this election.


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Three gentlemen for whom I have a great deal of respect -- Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission chairman Bill Leighty, architect and PLANiTULSA Citizens Committee chairman Bob Sober, and Village at Central Park developer and Pearl District advocate Jamie Jamieson -- have launched an effort to hold city officials accountable for the implementation of PLANiTULSA, the comprehensive plan for the City of Tulsa crafted by thousands of citizens and formally adopted last year by the City Council and Mayor as the guiding document for Tulsa's future growth.1

The three have launched Tracking PLANiTULSA. Here's the mission statement:

During the PlaniTulsa process Tulsans envisioned a community with a vibrant and sustainable economy which attracts young people and provides transportation and housing choices in walk-able neighborhoods and town centers.

We seek to ensure that PlaniTulsa Vision is realized by vigorously advocating for the timely implementation of the resulting Comprehensive Plan.

Focusing on the Plan's guiding principles we will track, report and comment on progress in a fair and forthright manner until the Plan's implementation is fully realized.

If you're a Facebook member, you can show your support, participate, and keep up with the latest news by "liking" the Tracking PLANiTULSA page.

The Tracking PLANiTULSA initiative comes on the heels of concerns about the Bartlett Jr Administration's diligence and bona fides in moving forward to hire a planning director and to hire a firm to write a new zoning/land use code consistent with the recently adopted comprehensive plan. Those concerns were articulated by Leighty, Sober, and Jamieson in a recent Urban Tulsa Weekly story: "Delayed to Death?"

The mayor's detractors are particularly upset that 10 and a half months after the council adopted the new comprehensive plan, few, if any, of the six strategies outlined in the PLANiTULSA Draft Strategic Plan have been completed. The timelines set out for completion of many of those tasks -- including the hiring of a planning director to oversee a revamped and beefed-up community development department, and the updating of the city's zoning code -- were six months to a year.

"I met with the mayor in February, and Terry (Simonson, Bartlett's chief of staff) told me then this would all be done by now," Leighty said. "But by the time this thing gets done, it looks to me like the mayor is going to be nearing his third year in office."...

The article goes into detail about Bartlett Jr's delay in asking for funding for the initiative, about the problem with Bartlett Jr's plan to fund the effort with temporary surplus funds, the Council's work to provide a long-term funding solution for implementing PLANiTULSA, and concerns that delays in pursuing these first steps could jeopardize funding in future years for a planning department and the small area plans that are a key part of PLANiTULSA's ongoing implementation. Small area plans are there to provide for new growth while respecting the investments of homeowners and business owners affected by new development, and if done right, small area planning will keep our new comprehensive plan from becoming a dusty book on a shelf, as happened with the previous plan from the 1970s.

The Tracking PLANiTULSA organizers say they're not trying to dwell on how we got where we are, but trying to encourage the process to move forward:

Our group's Facebook page will be tracking, reporting and commenting on progress, and provides a forum for everyone to discuss progress.

Why form this group and create a Tracking PLANITULSA Facebook page?

Shortly after the adoption of the City's new Comprehensive Plan last July, several 'Citizens Committee' members suggested to Mayor Bartlett that he appoint a group of volunteers to track progress on the Plan's implementation - an offer that was politely declined.

Our growing uneasiness over the subsequent, lackluster progress culminated with the announcement of a new, Mayoral 'Vision 2020', and barely a mention of PlaniTulsa in development of the City's FY2012 proposed Budget. The Mayor's briefing memorandum sent to department heads in December didn't mention PLANITULSA at all.

We suggest the new Comprehensive Plan should have been the anchor and the core of the budget. The city arguably lost a whole fiscal year in adjusting to a Plan that forms the basis of a competitive, development strategy for Tulsa. The KPMG Report is a useful starting point for evaluating cost-efficiencies, but it is only that; it is not a popularly conceived vision document and it is not a development strategy. The city cannot achieve prosperity through cost cutting alone.

Please note our Mission Statement in the 'Notes' section. When you "LIKE" our page, you receive status updates on your Facebook wall so you can track our posts. In the coming weeks we will be adding "notes" and photo albums to illustrate for newcomers the Plan's visionary concepts for Tulsa's future Land Use, Transportation, Economic Development and Housing goals. We hope you will contribute content too.

I've joined, and I hope you will, too.

1 Speaking of future growth, it's often forgotten that PLANiTULSA has its origins in the 2003 efforts of then-Councilors Chris Medlock and Joe Williams to create a future growth task force, to find a positive way to deal with contentious land use issues and encourage new development within the city limits of Tulsa. Medlock and Williams managed to win the support of two-thirds of the Council, but Mayor Bill LaFortune refused to back the effort without support of at least eight councilors, support that was withheld by Art Justis, Randy Sullivan, and Bill Christiansen. The rationale for the task force stated:

Tulsa's growth could no longer run unabated to the southeast because we were now hemmed in by Bixby and Broken Arrow. As such, the City of Tulsa was going to have to find new areas for growth. Areas that were less appealing for numerous reasons (geographic, geological, demographic, etc.) than the suburbs. Therefore, strategies and plans needed to be devised to compete with market forces that would serve to build up the suburbs and cause Tulsa growth to stagnate.

That focus on encouraging growth in Tulsa won Medlock and his council allies the enmity of suburban homebuilders and was a contributing factor in the unsuccessful 2004/2005 recall effort against Medlock and Councilor Jim Mautino. Just a few years later, and it seems to be a given that the City of Tulsa should be assertive about pursuing its own growth and development and competing effectively with the suburbs.

I outlined the history leading up to PLANiTULSA in the final segment of my final column for Urban Tulsa Weekly. Back to story

Tulsans know Whitey Bulger as the man allegedly behind the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler at Southern Hills Country Club. In the traditional Irish neighborhood of South Boston, the Bulger family is well known, but Whitey's reputation is not as black-and-white. Whitey's younger brother Billy Bulger (dubbed the Corrupt Midget by columnist Howie Carr) served many years as the President of the Massachusetts Senate and, after retiring from the legislature, as President of the University of Massachusetts. Check out this fascinating Boston Globe video report getting reactions to Whitey Bulger's arrest from his erstwhile neighbors.

"He was a mobstah, but so what? Everybody's got a occupation.... He nevah bothahed me 'n' my family, so...."

MORE: Howie Carr interviewed by Boston TV about Whitey's capture and Carr's column on Whitey's capture, in which he connects the dots between Whitey's successful (allegedly) criminal career and the government officials who enabled him (including his brother, who, according to Carr, got him a no show government job and used connections to help Whitey become an FBI informant). Howie Carr has written a book on the Boston underworld, called Boston Hitman, and the book's website has a catalog of key figures -- Whitey's associates, protectors, victims, and rivals.

If you're on the home page, click the link to see the video:

Here's an idea that's been on my mind for a while, and it's time to begin to flesh it out. As you read, keep in mind that this is a first draft. Your thoughts are welcome.

This insight seems obvious to me, so obvious that I searched to find the place where I must have read it, but I've never found it. I wrote about it at length in a UTW column in the aftermath of the December 2007 ice storm, which I had titled "The Amish Are Laughing at Us."

So I am going to stake my claim to this insight and give it a label:

Bates's Law of Creeping Techno-Slavery:

Any useful technology passes through three phases:
luxury, convenience, necessity.

It begins as a "can't have," but ultimately becomes a "can't live without."

The transition from luxury to convenience happens when the cost of the technology declines and the availability increases to allow it to be in general use.

During the convenience phase, the superseded technology is still available as a fallback. When the fallback disappears, we enter the necessity phase. We are completely dependent on the new technology.

The convenience phase is the sweet spot -- we have the technology, we can use it, but we can live without it (albeit not as well), because we still have the fallback. But we are pushed inexorably to the necessity phase.

In the necessity phase, we have reorganized our lives around the assumption that the technology will continue to exist, at the same cost or cheaper.

A fallback technology disappears when the cost of maintaining it exceeds the benefit.

Eventually, the knowledge to recreate the fallback becomes rare, limited to a handful of old-timers and the occasional retro-tech enthusiast.

By "superseded technology," I don't necessarily mean a device, but a combination of tools or devices and ways of using them.

Think about how you'd live your life if you suddenly had to do it without your own car. Or had to manage without motorized vehicles at all. Tulsa, like most younger cities, grew around the persistent availability of cheap personal transport.

Think about your home's comfort in the event of a lengthy power outage. If it's a newer home, it probably wasn't built to take advantage of passing breezes for ventilation, and the fireplace, if you have one, was designed for looks, not for keeping the place warm.

Another short example: Think about a trip to a large amusement park in the 1970s or earlier, with your family or, say, a church youth group. At some point in the day, the group you're with breaks up to do different things. Miraculously you're all back together at the end of the day for the drive home. We managed that without cell phones, and yet as I remember trips like that, it's hard to remember the methods we used to make it work. Or how we managed to convoy multiple cars over a long road trip without anything more than turn signals and hand signals to communicate.

A longer example: The library card catalog. For years, this was the means for maintaining an index of the library's ever-changing collections. The technology had significant limitations: It was available only in one place, adding, sorting, and deleting was error prone and subject to tampering. But it provided a way to maintain a complete, ordered listing without retyping the whole thing every time you added or removed a book.

When electronic library catalog systems came along, they were expensive and ran on expensive computers. Big libraries with big budgets could afford them, so it was still important for an aspiring librarian to know how to manage a card catalog. Even in libraries with an electronic catalog, a card catalog would have been maintained in parallel for a few years as a backup and to serve customers uncomfortable with the green glowing letters on the black screen of a dumb terminal.

Eventually the cost of hardware and software came down enough so that nearly every library could afford an electronic catalog. Patrons, used to working with computers at home, had no problem using a computer at the library to locate a book. Almost no one used the card catalog, and it wasn't worth the time of a librarian to type and sort cards in order to maintain it. The huge cases of tiny drawers went away, and the cards became scratch paper on which to jot down call numbers from the computer screen.

Ink, paper, and drawers aren't obsolete, but the application of these items as a card catalog is. And all is well, as long as the power stays on and nothing happens to the computer. If there's no power, there's no longer a backup. You could have an enormous library full of books to read, undiminished in their ability to entertain and enlighten by the lack of electricity, but you'd have no way to find the book you want. An older librarian might be able to point you to the general vicinity based on the subject and the likely Dewey Decimal number. Or you could just browse.

MORE: An excerpt from Eric Brende's 2004 book, Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, with an anecdote about the confusion at a fast-food drive-through window when the cash register doesn't work. Brende, with a degree from Yale and a master's from MIT, now lives a low-tech life with his family in St. Louis, working as a rickshaw driver and soapmaker, inspired by his interaction with the Amish.

Marsha M. Linehan, a professor of psychology, psychiatry, and behavioral science whose life work has focused on help for the chronically suicidal, has spoken to the New York Times about her own struggle with self-destructive urges. The revelation comes some 50 years after she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Connecticut, where she was described in her discharge papers as "one of the most disturbed patients in the hospital."

Linehan has decided to speak out to give hope to her fellow sufferers that it is possible to live a successful productive life despite a mental illness.

Two notable things here. First, Dr. Linehan is from Tulsa:

Her childhood, in Tulsa, Okla., provided few clues. An excellent student from early on, a natural on the piano, she was the third of six children of an oilman and his wife, an outgoing woman who juggled child care with the Junior League and Tulsa social events.

People who knew the Linehans at that time remember that their precocious third child was often in trouble at home, and Dr. Linehan recalls feeling deeply inadequate compared with her attractive and accomplished siblings. But whatever currents of distress ran under the surface, no one took much notice until she was bedridden with headaches in her senior year of high school.

Her younger sister, Aline Haynes, said: "This was Tulsa in the 1960s, and I don't think my parents had any idea what to do with Marsha. No one really knew what mental illness was."

More significant: What sustained her and ultimately empowered her to live was her faith in Christ:

It was 1967, several years after she left the institute as a desperate 20-year-old whom doctors gave little chance of surviving outside the hospital. Survive she did, barely: there was at least one suicide attempt in Tulsa, when she first arrived home; and another episode after she moved to a Y.M.C.A. in Chicago to start over.

She was hospitalized again and emerged confused, lonely and more committed than ever to her Catholic faith. She moved into another Y, found a job as a clerk in an insurance company, started taking night classes at Loyola University -- and prayed, often, at a chapel in the Cenacle Retreat Center.

"One night I was kneeling in there, looking up at the cross, and the whole place became gold -- and suddenly I felt something coming toward me," she said. "It was this shimmering experience, and I just ran back to my room and said, 'I love myself.' It was the first time I remember talking to myself in the first person. I felt transformed."

Mountaintop experiences never last, but tough times no longer drove her to suicidal impulses. She had come to a point of "radical acceptance":

She had accepted herself as she was. She had tried to kill herself so many times because the gulf between the person she wanted to be and the person she was left her desperate, hopeless, deeply homesick for a life she would never know. That gulf was real, and unbridgeable.

This kind of acceptance doesn't preclude the possibility or necessity of change, but that drive to change can be productively directed forward rather than generating despair over the unchangeable past.

The article goes into further detail about the evolution of dialectical behavior therapy, her approach to helping "supersuicidal people."

There is video accompanying the article of Dr. Linehan describing the spiritual experience that led to her healing. It does not surprise me that this experience of radical acceptance was connected to meditation on the cross.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.... What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?... For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:1, 31-32, 39)

P. S. Dr. Linehan is the director of the Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics. Their website appears to be gone, and her own webpage is in dire need of an update. (There's a download link for RealJukebox!) The BRTC's contributions page seeks someone to develop and maintain their website. The date on the page is from 2002, so I'm guessing they never found anyone. If you have web skills and suicide prevention is a cause that touches your heart, follow that link and get in touch.

Urban Tulsa Weekly reporter Mike Easterling has accepted a position as managing editor of the Montrose (Colo.) Daily Press.

Week after week, for over two years, Mike has provided thorough, perceptive, in-depth coverage of local government for UTW. I'm happy to have had the opportunity to work with him, both as a colleague and as a source. It's always a pleasure to talk with Mike. He asks insightful questions, grasps the key issues, and conveys that understanding to the reader.

Easterling served as editor of the Oklahoma Gazette, OKC's alt-weekly, through the 1990s. (In April 2010, he wrote a piece for the New York Times to mark the 15th anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing.) Prior to his stint with UTW, he was a reporter and city editor for the Albuquerque Journal's Santa Fe bureau.

Mike Easterling's departure, back to the mountains he loves, is a great loss for Tulsa. I wish him all the best in his new endeavor and wish UTW all the best in finding someone to carry on his work here.

Two trios, once classical, one Celtic, will be performing this Thursday and Friday evening, respectively, June 23 and 24, 2011, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center in the Charles E. Norman Theater, as part of the SummerStage Festival.

Trio Spiritoso -- Carol Hilborn on flute, Amy Pickard on oboe, and Gordon Robson on cello -- will perform Thursday (tonight), June 23, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $10.

Trio Spiritoso returns to the SummerStage Festival to perform a variety of delightful chamber music works for trios by Beethoven, Handel, Vivaldi and contemporary composer Tomas Svoboda.

Comprising flute, oboe and cello, Trio Spiritoso provides a unique blend of instrumental timbres that enables listeners of all experience levels to enjoy the intertwining of sounds and musical ideas. Audiences can appreciate both the simplicity of a melody over harmony and bass line, as well as follow the more complex lines of contrapuntal writing.

This performance promises beautiful music in an intimate setting that will stimulate your senses, challenge your intellect and refresh your soul.

Vintage Wildflowers, back from their appearance at the Kennedy Center, will perform tomorrow (Friday) night, June 23, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $10, reserved table seating is available for $12.

Since January 2009, Tulsa-based Vintage Wildflowers has developed an enthusiastic legion of fans with their vibrant blend of three-part harmonies, backed by Celtic harp, Irish flute and fiddle. Mix in bits of mandolin, whistle, guitar, banjo, and bodhran and you have an idea of what it's like to spend an evening with these women.

Acclaimed for their instrumental prowess, onstage charm and soulful vocals, 2011 marks the trio's national debut in a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as well as the release of their second album "Lovely Madness".

(MORE: Here's a preview story about Vintage Wildflowers in the Washington Examiner.)

There's much more to come for this year's SummerStage Festival: Rockin' Acoustic Circus on July 29, Becky Hobbs' musical "Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee" on July 10, and Encore! Theatre Arts presentation of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" July 15-17.

If you buy tickets at the PAC box office for three or more performances, you can get a SummerStage Festival Pass, with a discount on those events and any others in the series.

And if you'd like to hear more from four of the six musicians who comprise Trio Spiritoso and Vintage Wildflowers, you'll find them most Sunday mornings at 10:45 playing or singing as part of the worship team at Christ Presbyterian Church, 2706 E. 51st St, Tulsa (between Lewis and Harvard). Admission is free; tithes and offerings gratefully accepted.

Former Utah Gov. and Obama Administration Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has hired two campaign consultants with ties to Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe to handle the candidate's video and digital presence.

Ryan Cassin is Huntsman's digital strategist, according to a CNN story about the Huntsman campaign website. Cassin served as political director of Inhofe's 2008 reelection campaign, GOTV/grassroots coordinator for the Oklahoma Republican State House Committee in 2006, and deputy campaign manager for Mick Cornett's unsuccessful 2006 run for Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District. Earlier this year Cassin and former Inhofe campaign manager Josh Kivett founded Connect Strategic Communications.

Fred Davis, Inhofe's nephew, is Huntsman's media strategist, creating web video ads which have received notice in political circles for being rather odd:

Needless to say, the ads are a bit of a head-scratcher if you don't already know about Huntsman. It's all very puzzling.

"Exactly right. On purpose. Correct me if I'm wrong, Jeff, but is the election today? I can't remember," said Fred Davis, the man responsible for the video series. " ... The goal today is to say, 'huh, you know I'm not really excited about anybody on the Republican side running for president. Look, here's somebody's whose fresh and different. That's all you can ask for today."

Davis is a very affable man on quite a hot streak. He was behind the viral Carla Fiorina "Demon Sheep" ad in the 2010 midterms and is accustomed to making a splash with his off-beat videos. It's perfect and "will eventually make sense," he said of Huntsman's unconventional campaign, which he's joining in an official capacity.

You'll recall that Davis was also behind Christine O'Donnell's "I'm Not a Witch" ad from 2010 and Bob Sullivan's campaign ads attacking Ernest Istook during the 2006 Oklahoma Republican governor's primary. (Those ads involved Gailard Sartain, a pig mask, and an Istook mask.)

(I started looking into this because I was surprised to see exuberantly positive mentions of Huntsman on my Facebook home page from Cassin. I didn't expect to see any of my Facebook friends -- mostly Tulsans, Oklahomans, and national bloggers -- excited about a Huntsman candidacy.)

MORE on Jon Huntsman:

Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks dismisses Huntsman:

"To be honest with you...we haven't really taken a look at him [Huntsman] because I don't consider him a serious candidate," said Kibbe. "If he starts to emerge as somebody- I mean, I've been told by people that he's not terribly good on our issues."...

"He [Huntsman] had some pretty glorifying things to say about the stimulus," Kibbe continued. "And apparently...there's a lot of rumors that's he's signed some really glowing letter about Obama as soon as he was an ambassador," he added jokingly.

Michelle Malkin: "Jon Huntsman: McCain on Wheels"

Huntsman is the latest no-labels flavor of the month, a straw man of the same people who have spent the past year smearing entitlement reformers as senior-citizen killers, budget hawks as Hitler's spawn, border-security activists as racists, and leading GOP women as sluts, nuts, and bimbos.

While politely paying lip service to principles of tea-party fiscal restraint, Huntsman hopes no one remembers how 2,000 Utah tea-party activists booed him in April 2009 so corrosively it could have stripped the paint off a fleet of Harleys.

Utah conservatives raised their voices at the seminal tea-party rally against Huntsman for championing $1.6 billion in Obama stimulus funds (Huntsman wanted even more money than that) -- and against GOP senator Orrin Hatch and then-GOP senator Bob Bennett for backing the Bush-Obama TARP bailout. The grassroots message: "Send them home!" A year later, voters ousted Bennett from the GOP primary after four profligate terms in office. And Hatch is in for the fight of his entrenched incumbent life.

Malkin points out several similarities between McCain and Huntsman with regard to global warming, illegal immigration, and government control of health care.

In an interview with Politico, Huntsman says he plans to win the nomination by appealing to non-Republicans who will be able, in many states, to cross over and vote in the Republican primary.

Given that an incumbent president is a prohibitive favorite to win renomination, many Democrat voters will take the lack of a competitive primary for their own party to influence the outcome of the Republican nomination process.

The former Utah governor's strategy is an attempt to make a virtue out of necessity. His moderate positions on the environment, immigration and civil unions --and his time as Barack Obama's ambassador to China--are formidable obstacles to victory in a party where the energy is concentrated in the conservative core.

Huntsman plans to skip the Iowa caucuses. Huntsman's wealth and past political favors may win him political allies that might otherwise reject him on policy grounds:

A litany of establishment South Carolina Republicans who have already signed up to support him were at his side: former state party executive director Joel Sawyer, who is running his effort in the state; Mike Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, a revered Republican figure here; and former state Attorney General Henry McMaster.

McMaster is returning the support he got from Huntsman several years ago, when the ex-governor held a fundraiser out out west that netted $60,000 for McMaster's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The fundraiser was held before Huntsman departed to become ambassador to China.

I mentioned getting to hear Tulsa-based Celtic music trio Vintage Wildflowers -- Melissa Schiavone (lead vocals, flute, penny whistle, banjo), Dana Maher (harp and vocals), and Abby Bozarth (five-string fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and vocals) -- on June 12, 2011, at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. The archived hour-long video has been posted on the Kennedy Center website for your viewing pleasure and convenience.

The program included traditional Irish songs of love, heartbreak, and murder, punctuated by dry wit. There were non-traditional songs, too; for example, The Police's "Wrapped around Your Finger" and Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty." It was a fun program to see live, and it's lovely to be able to see and hear it all again.

The obvious next stop for these three is "A Prairie Home Companion."

Video of the main session speeches and the policy track panels for RightOnline 2011 have now been posted.

Available videos include:

  • Opening general session: Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN), Congressman John Kline (MN), Ann McElhinney of Not Evil Just Wrong, Melissa Clouthier @MelissaTweets, John Hinderaker of PowerLineBlog.com
  • Grassroots Awards Dinner: Andrew Breitbart of BigGovernment.com, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Tracy Henke of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and Erik Telford of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
  • Saturday general session: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN), Congressman Tim Huelskamp (KS), Michelle Malkin, Commentator Jason Lewis, John Fund of The Wall Street Journal, Author and Conservative Commentator S.E. Cupp, Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com, Erick Erickson of RedState.com, Guy Benson of Townhall.com
  • Special session with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
  • Closing Session With Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli, Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter, and Herman Cain from AFPhq on Vimeo.

Many of the speeches are available as individual videos.

The public policy panel discussions available for viewing:

  • Cutting Red Tape: Reining in Out-of-Control Regulators

  • Healthcare: Obamacare vs. Patient Freedom

  • Job Creation: Standing Up To Obama's Union Thugs

  • Tax Reform: A Return to Economic Growth

  • Internet Freedom: Washington's Internet Takeover

  • Extreme Power Abuse: Global Warming & Energy Regulation

Steve Lackmeyer of the Oklahoman wrote a response to my item from last week about the possibility that Kanbar Properties may be selling its entire downtown Tulsa portfolio and reportedly will be mothballing some buildings pending their sale.

Lackmeyer sees a pattern at work:

Tulsa, it seems, gets so close, so often, to celebrating something huge only to see their hopes dashed. While Oklahoma City goes in slower, incremental steps on its urban revival that take years to complete, Tulsa goes after one big quick roll of the dice after another.

A giant Indian statue called "The American" (something to rival the St. Louis Arch) was announced to great fanfare - and went no where. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, went with a heroic size recreation of the Land Run, and while it's taking a few years to get done, one small piece at a time, it's quietly becoming a significant tourist attraction (though it will never be the St. Louis Arch).

Tulsa then sought to create urban entertainment districts to rival Bricktown. At first glance, with incredible assets like Cain's Ballroom and the Brady Theater, this should have been a slam dunk. But again, Tulsa went for something bigger than just one district, and the result until recently has been two detached district, each with great qualities, but still falling short of the sort of place people will travel to from across the region. I have high hopes that may soon change with the latest announced developments - if they come to pass.

I have to take some exception to this. No one from Tulsa asked Maurice Kanbar to buy up a third of downtown's square footage. He just did. (Or at least his then-partner Henry Kaufman just did.) Nor was the Big Indian part of some city-approved plan. It was entirely a private initiative.

In fact, the best of what you see in Tulsa has come about by incremental steps. The Mayo Hotel's revival began with using the basement as covered parking to generate revenue, followed by the restoration of the lobby as an event space. The Blue Dome District and Bob Wills District (also known as the Brady District) have been coming back one building at a time. The same is true of shopping and entertainment districts 18th and Boston, Cherry Street, and Brookside.

I think it would be more accurate to say that city officials sought to support what private entrepreneurs were doing, by means of TIF districts that generate revenue for lighting and sidewalk improvements. There was a more formal city effort to assemble land for a large mixed-use development called the East Village or the East End (southeast of the Blue Dome District), but that effort has so far seen two unsuccessful development attempts.

But I want to focus on one passing comment that Steve made:

What's potentially worrisome is that the Kanbar is emptying some of the older buildings of their few remaining tenants. Such moves can lead to regret later if the buildings go dark, and lose their "grandfather" status under code requirements for renovations.

This would make it much harder for a new owner to make use of these buildings, which could lead to demolition.

I am still waiting to hear back from either Kanbar Properties or former Kanbar leasing agent Clay Clark. Perhaps if this story gathers some momentum, they may decide to speak out. If you're on Facebook or Twitter, please post a link to this blog entry, the earlier blog entry, or Steve Lackmeyer's blog entry.

A quick update before dinner:

I went to two excellent presentations this afternoon:

Earl Glynn of Kansas Watchdog spoke on "Freedom of Information and How to Use It Effectively." He dealt not only with the federal FOIA, but also with using state and local open records laws to research and investigate.

Tom Steward and Jonathan Blake of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota spoke on "Exposing Crony Capitalism," focusing on a case involving President Obama's weatherization czar and the "green" replacement window company owned by the czar's husband.

Time for dinner and a speech by Andrew Breitbart. I'll add links and some more details relating to these talks later.

In just a few hours, Jamison Faught (the Muskogee Politico) and I will be on our way to Minneapolis for the 4th annual RightOnline conference. As in years past, the conference is scheduled to take place in the same city as the left-wing Netroots Nation convention.

The conference is all about how to be a more effective online activist; breakout sessions include such topics as using the Freedom of Information Act, Podcasting 101, Exposing Crony Capitalism, and Effective Blogging at the State and Local Level.

The speakers' list includes three announced presidential candidates -- Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, and Herman Cain -- conservative columnists Michelle Malkin, S. E. Cupp, and John Fund, and prominent online commentators and activists like Andrew Breitbart, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, Erick Erickson of RedState, Melissa Clouthier, and John Hinderaker of PowerLine blog.

Most of the plenary sessions and the public policy seminar track will be live-streamed, starting at 1 pm CDT Friday.

It is likely to be easier for me to tweet than to blog, so be sure to follow BatesLine on Twitter for my latest thoughts. You can also follow @ExJon's list of RightOnline tweeps, or what appears to be the official RightOnline 2011 Twitter list.

(Disclosure: My hotel and airfare is being paid for by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.)

There are indications that downtown Tulsa's biggest property owner is looking to sell and get out, despite big plans announced last fall and very recent affirmations of his commitment to Tulsa.

Last month's Tulsa People had a Q&A with Maurice Kanbar, the San Francisco inventor who owns over 2 million square feet of commercial space in downtown Tulsa. Kanbar's shopping spree in 2005 and early 2006 gave many Tulsans (including your humble blogger) hope that exciting things would be happening soon in Tulsa's downtown core, now that someone with means had made such a big investment.

Most of what has happened downtown in the meantime has been accomplished by other building owners -- the Mayo Hotel, the new Courtyard by Marriott in the Atlas Building (once owned by Kanbar), the revamped Holiday Inn, the lofts at the Mayo Building, and on-going activity in the Blue Dome and Bob Wills Districts.

Two of Kanbar's smaller buildings between 4th and 5th on Main were demolished. In 2007, Kanbar Properties turned back the Vision 2025 money it had sought to convert the Transok building at 6th and Main to lofts. But last November, plans were announced for a "Deco District," attracting specialty retailers to Kanbar's historic properties in the downtown core. It appeared that the hopes raised in 2005 would finally be realized five years later.

I received word last week that Kanbar Properties has asked Tulsa's Barthelmes Conservatory to vacate their home on the third floor of the Avanti Building at 8th and Cincinnati. The conservatory, which offers a rigorous program of instruction to talented young musicians, is in the process of finding a new home adequate for the special needs of a music school (soundproofing, practice space, performance space).

According to a letter sent to the school's community from conservatory President Joseph L. Hull, III, Kanbar Properties is attempting to sell its entire Tulsa portfolio at once, rather than one building at a time, and so the conservatory's overtures to buy the Avanti Building have been rebuffed. (Built in 1926 as a car dealership, the building's thick reinforced concrete floors help to keep sound from traveling. In later years, Brown-Dunkin and Edison's used it as a warehouse.) According to the letter, Kanbar is mothballing the building while awaiting sale of the entire portfolio because of the building's low occupancy rate and deferred maintenance issues.

A May 26, 2011, blog entry by Tulsa World food columnist Scott Cherry reported that the restaurant Impressions had to vacate its space in the Kanbar-owned Oil Capital Building (507 S. Main) by the end of July.

I phoned and left a message for Clay Clark, whose firm Fears & Clark had been acting as leasing agents for Kanbar and promoters of the Deco District plan. Clark had contacted me last fall and talked to me at length about Kanbar's exciting plans. I have yet to hear back from him. The headline of a June 2 story in the Journal Record (subscription required) suggests that the firm is no longer working with Kanbar Properties.

I also tried yesterday to contact a leasing agent for Kanbar Properties by phone for comment. I left a message, but as of noon today I have not received a reply.

MORE: KOTV's Terry Hood interviewed Maurice Kanbar in December 2010.

Greetings from the self-proclaimed "Cutest Café in Georgetown" (Snap, 1062 Thomas Jefferson St, open 11 to 11 most nights, til 10 on Sundays, crepes, bubble tea, free wifi), where I'm grabbing a quick bite of dinner to complete a wonderful weekend in the Washington area.

Planning to meet up with friends when visiting a city is always a tricky business. Just because I'm free doesn't mean they will be. And planning several different meetings is even trickier -- you can't firm up plans with Friend B until things are set with Friend A

This weekend everything fell into place --

  • a spur-of-the-moment visit with a former colleague and his family in Annapolis, en route from Delaware to DC;
  • breakfast, lunch, and a full Saturday morning of talking urban planning and touring new developments and redevelopments (The Kentlands, Bethesda Row, downtown Silver Spring) with a college classmate who works for Montgomery County's planning agency;
  • a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian and a serendipitous opportunity to hear Bartlesville native singer/songwriter Becky Hobbs;
  • breakfast and traditional Anglican worship with a blogpal at the historic Falls Church;
  • lunch with a fraternity brother and his kids at a conveyor-belt sushi place in Tyson's Corner (warning: website is flash app with automatic music), followed by dessert at a fancy coffee and sweets shop;
  • a free concert at the Kennedy Center by Tulsa Celtic trio Vintage Wildflowers (archived broadcast should be available here in a couple of days);
  • and, in between all that, strolls around downtown Annapolis, Capitol Hill, Eastern Market, the National Mall, Foggy Bottom, the Watergate, the Potomac, Falls Church, the C&O Canal, and Georgetown.


Add to that the time I spent last weekend at my MIT class of '86 reunion / ZBT Xi centennial, and dinner several times this week with my uncle and aunt, and it's been a time of renewing and deepening ties with friends and extended family.

The weekend also marks the end of an intense nine months of travel related to a project at work. Since last August 23rd, I've been away from my family 190 days, with no more than three weeks' break between trips, and all but 11 of those days have been devoted to the day job.

My trips were focused on three cities: San Antonio, Texas (101 days), Fairfield, California (44 days), and Dover, Delaware (34 days). Earlier in the year, I spent 78 days in Wichita on a different project, spread out over five months. These few cities join a handful of other places where I have been for a month or more over a short span of time:

Lawrence, Ks.
Bartlesville, Okla.
Brookline, Mass.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Quezon City, Philippines
Altus, Okla.
London, England


I thought I might get more accomplished during my travels, but it didn't work out that way. I read a few books, did a bit of blogging, but it was hard to resist the urge to explore the area and spend time with old friends. The extended time away was a hardship for the whole family, but it was interesting to spend enough time in these cities to begin to get to know them well.


I've never traveled so much in such a short span -- 30 days away over the course of a year is closer to typical -- and I don't expect to repeat the situation.

Don't expect my blogging pace to pick up anytime soon. Now it's time to renew my ties with my immediate family. Eventually it'll be time to renew my acquaintance with the city that has been my hometown for 42 years.

This past weekend I visited Boston and the MIT campus for the first time in 14 years to attend my 25th reunion, which coincided with the centennial of my fraternity's chapter at MIT (Xi Chapter of Zeta Beta Tau) and MIT's sesquicentennial.

The headline in the latest issue of the Tech and an exhibit at the MIT Museum awakened yet another regret about my college years: I didn't take 8.01, the standard first-semester physics class covering classical mechanics.

Instead, I decided that, since I had AP credit for first-semester calculus, I should challenge myself and take 8.012, the version of first-semester physics that required calculus. The course was taught by the professor who wrote the textbook. 8.012 met twice a week for 90 minutes in lecture hall 26-100, where the lecturer dryly repeated the material from his book. The ZBT pledges would sit on the back row (we always sat on the back row) while struggling to stay awake. Over the course of the semester, our numbers dwindled as students came to their senses and transferred to 8.01 the mainstream physics course. I stayed with it, passed (freshman year is pass/no-credit) with a B-, but failed to grasp rotational physics.

It was in 8.012 that I scored in the 50s on a test for the first time that I could remember. (Thankfully, so did my classmates.)

This is the sort of thing I missed by not taking 8.01:

I wised up after first semester and enrolled in 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism) for the spring, so I wasn't completely deprived of Prof. Lewin's teaching.

Lewin has retired, and he gave his final physics lecture in 26-100 last month.

"I have given, in this lecture hall, about 800 lectures. And it is wonderful to be back here, but it really hurts to know that this is my last lecture in 26-100," he said. "I have therefore decided that I want to leave you in style. The way I will do this, is I will leave 26-100 in my own private rocket."

Off to the side, Lewin promptly grasped his cherry-red three-wheel vintage bike, sat down, and released the tab on a canister of CO2, which propelled him across the speckled floor of the lecture hall's stage.

Despite his retirement, you can still enjoy learning from Prof. Lewin. You can see his last lecture online, and you can watch the entire set of his 8.01 lectures from the Fall 1999 semester, his 8.02: Electricity and Magnetism lectures from the Spring 2002 semester, and his 8.03: Vibration and Waves lectures from Fall 2004 at the MIT OpenCourseWare site.

The headline story in today's Delaware State News reported testimony in the trial of pediatrician Earl Bradley on two dozen counts of rape, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation of children. According to the story, much of the prosecution's evidence is digital video recovered from thumb drives and memory sticks. 86 victims appeared on the tapes, nearly all were toddlers.

Amid the news story's account of the horrific testimony by the detective who had to review the videos, two items stood out:

The first is a warning to all parents. Just as a molester will "groom" a potential victim to be unwary, trusting, and compliant to the molester's advances, this molester groomed the parents of his patients to see nothing suspicious in him being alone with their children for an extended period of time:

Detective Garland said several incidents caught on video illustrate "planning and grooming" by Bradley in order to commit the acts. For instance, giving popsicles and prizes, such as princess dolls and other toys, and keeping them in the basement as a reason to separate parent and child made those occurrences common at his practice.

"By normalizing it, you avoid objections. You have that whole grooming thing going on of parents," Detective Garland said.

I imagine some parents had qualms about their children going alone with the doctor, but perhaps they felt foolish, thinking it inconceivable that a trusted professional would harm their children.

Parents should never feel embarrassed about acting to protect their children against someone who seems to have harmful intentions, even if its only a hunch. You may be mistaken, but you can be firm but gracious, protecting your child unapologetically but
without causing embarrassment to someone whose intentions may truly be honorable.

I'm reminded of the leader (now former leader) of an activity for pre-teen and teenage children. At one event, I saw that he drove a windowless full-size van. As far as I knew, this man had no personal or professional reason to own such a vehicle. I wouldn't have let my child join the group if this man were still involved; happily, he left before any of my children were ready to participate.

The second item that stood out involved a hurdle that the investigators had to cross, an unnecessary hurdle.

Some of the sex acts on captured on video were stored in password-protected files with an encryption software program that posed a challenge to forensic investigators. Detective Garland said that upon learning that the manufacturer that created the software was no longer in business, investigators resorted to trolling "less than reputable" online sites that deal in pirated software to help crack the code.

Why isn't there a reputable company offering software to crack these password-protected files? Possibly because of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). The federal law, passed in 1998 without a roll call vote and signed by President Clinton, prohibits circumventing technological protections on software and media. The law has created a chilling effect, deterring software companies from providing consumers with the means to make fair use of the software and media they own. The U. S. Copyright Office has authorized some temporary exemptions to the law, but as far as I can tell (and I'm no expert) there is no exemption for reverse-engineering software owned by a defunct company.

While I support the right of Americans to use strong encryption (e.g. Pretty Good Privacy) so as to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects," I don't see why we should make it hard for companies to replicate the functionality of obsolete programs. There's something wrong when a measure intended to protect movie studios works instead to protect child rapists.

In case you missed it, here is the Tulsa Police Department's statement from Wednesday concerning Tuesday's incident at 21st and Yale, involving a fatal carjacking attempt, a second carjacking, and pursuit ending in the death of one of the perpetrators.

It was close enough to us that my son, inside the house, thought he heard someone setting off firecrackers.

By the way, KRMG's text messaging service (text NEWS to 95920) let me know that shots were being fired and a pursuit was underway near my house, so that I could call my family and tell them to stay indoors and away from windows.

On May 31, 2011 at approximately 10:00 AM, two suspects committed a home invasion in Prue which is located in Osage County. The victims were approached by two white males dressed as linesmen. The two suspects produced firearms and ordered the two victims into the residence. While in the residence both victims were tied up and items were taken from the house. The suspects then loaded a large number of firearms into victim's white 1999 GMC safari van bearing Oklahoma 612-FLT. One suspect identified as Billy Joe Hammons loaded one of the victims from the home invasion and drove to Tulsa. During this time a second victim from the home invasion was able to free himself and called police and notified them of the crime and that the suspect and kidnapping victim were heading to 2246 S. Oswego in Tulsa. Tulsa Police Officers were dispatched to an enroute to harm call at the residence.

At approximately 12:30 PM, Officer D. Cole arrived at the location and immediately observed the suspect and kidnapping victim exiting the residence. Upon seeing the officer, Billy Hamons fired at Officer Cole striking his police vehicle. The suspect then forced the kidnapping victim back into the truck and led officers on a pursuit that stopped at the Neighborhood Wal-Mart located at 2100 South Yale Ave. The suspect fled into the Wal-Mart where he fired additional shots. The suspect then fled the Wal-Mart on foot towards the Panda Express located on the Northeast corner of 2100 South Yale Ave. The suspect ran through the Panda Express still armed with a firearm. The suspect exited the Panda Express and attempted to car jack a couple who were driving west on East 21st Street. The suspect fired a shot into the vehicle killing the male driver. The suspect then car jacked a truck occupied by four people. The suspect drove south on Yale Ave. while firing shots at the pursuing officers. As officers returned fire the suspect struck a utility pole located at 22nd Place and South Yale. After a lengthy standoff, SOT officers approached the vehicle and found the suspect dead. At this time it is not known whether Billy Hammons was killed by officers or a self inflicted gunshot wound.

The suspect has been identified as Billy Joe Hammons W/M 04-07-80.

The homicide victim has been identified as Sufeng He male DOB: 04-01-1987

Billy Hammons is currently suspected to be involved in several armed robberies in and around Tulsa including robberies where the suspects identified themselves as Tulsa Police Officers. The investigation is ongoing at this time. No audio or video of this incident will be released due to the ongoing criminal and internal investigation.

Seven officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

The second suspect is still outstanding as well as victims white 99 GMC safari van bearing OK tag 612-FLT. Any person with information about the identity of the second suspect is ecouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 918.596.COPS.


25 years ago today, I sat in MIT's Killian Court along with a thousand other students in a heavy academic gown made heavier by a steady rain. Officials thought the rain would hold off, but by the time it became apparent that it would not, it was too late to redirect graduates, diplomas, and well-wishers to the alternative indoor sites.

It was a fitting conclusion to the odd final act of my time at MIT. A couple of weeks into the spring semester of my junior year, chest aches and fever were diagnosed as acute pericarditis. The doctor sent me straight to the infirmary, and within a week I was watching as a surgeon stuck a needle into my chest to drain a half-liter of fluid as a crowd of residents looked on. (Mt. Auburn Hospital was a teaching hospital.)

After a week of recovery time, I tried to jump back into academic life, but the pericarditis came back, along with high fever and heart rate. A few more weeks later, I had been ordered to go home and recuperate. There were further recurrences, much less severe, a couple of times a year over the next nine years, treated with rest and indomethacin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. (I'm pretty sure a couple of chest colds from years earlier were symptoms of the same problem.)

The missed semester threw the whole graduation plan off, thanks to courses offered only in the fall or spring. I came back full-time for the '84-'85 year, spent fall '85 working and taking one class, and then finished up in the spring of '86. The disruption to my plans inspired the essay I wrote for the yearbook -- I'll post that separately, later.

A significant recurrence struck at the beginning of my final month of school, and I had to give myself space to recover. With the department office, I determined I didn't need the Aeneid course at Harvard for graduation, so I punted it. I had an A in 6.045 (Computability, Complexity, and Automata); the professor said I could punt the final entirely and still get a C -- not pretty, one of a handful of non-As, and the only one in a class in my major, but I needed to cut way back on the pressure so I could rest and get healthy. I still had a final in Medieval and Church Latin at Harvard that the prof let me take at a later time. (Can't think of the other class I had that semester.)

Oh, about my major: I had planned to pursue computer science, although I was open to urban studies or political science. The first lecture of the initial urban studies class was so blatantly left-wing on matters incidental to urban policy that I dropped the class and the idea of majoring in Course XI. During the first semester of my sophomore year, I worked out a plan that would give me an education in computer science but would include a humanities component that was stronger than usual for MIT -- specifically, classics, which was not a major MIT has ever offered. I put together a classics component from Latin classes taken by cross-registration at Harvard and a couple of ancient Greek and Roman history classes offered at MIT. The dual major in humanities and engineering got me two-thirds of the standard program in each of computer science and classics but would still let me finish in four years. I wrote up a proposal and got the necessary approvals. (The rules were changed after the fact to require a majority of classes in each component of the dual major to be taken at MIT.)

My parents and sister were coming for commencement, and the night before we were going to have dinner at Uno's at Harvard and Comm Ave in Allston with a high school classmate who worked in Boston. Their arrival from my uncle's house in New Jersey kept getting pushed back. (The delay was because my little sister realized she left her boyfriend's photo at our uncle's house, so they had to retrace winding roads to fetch it. Thankfully, this was not the boyfriend she eventually married.) (Thinking back on this, it's hard to remember how we managed back then without cell phones.)

Back to graduation day, and it's raining steadily. One parent was heard to say, "After the soaking I've taken from this place for the past four years, what's a little rain?"

We sat through what may have been the dullest commencement speech ever. The speaker, one of the founders of Hewlett-Packard, had apparently never read the speech before stepping up to the podium to read it, ploddingly, to us. (I had to look it up, but the speaker was William Hewlett, who received a Master's from MIT in 1936.) You can read Hewlett's speech on page 5 of the June 24, 1986, issue of The Tech (PDF), but you'd be better off reading columnist Andrew Fish's summary on page 4:

Inside or out, the audience still had to be content with the address of William R. Hewlett SM '36. This was unfortunate. Hewlett's own title, "Random Thoughts on Creativity," was certainly appropiate. I had trouble following the speech, as it wandered aimlessly around, never reaching a firm conclusion....

The biggest complaint I have against the speech, though, was its stereotyping of the MIT community. Hewlett treated the entire class as if they were engineers going into industry. The speech was not a broad message to the entire graduating class, rather a lesson on how to be a better engineer....

I also urge the commencement committee to be more creative in their speaker selection. Graduates should be able to hear a speech with vision, and not another lecture, at the end of their long career.

'85 got Lee Iacocca and sunshine, for heaven's sake.

We then had to endure the lengthy remarks of our class president, who had a seat under the canopy and was evidently indifferent to her soggy classmates' plight. (I seem to recall many of us shouting "Finally!" until she skipped ahead to her conclusion.)

Finally, we lined up to march across the stage and receive our diplomas from President Paul Gray. (There was a joke: MIT's skies are gray, the walls are gray, the buildings are gray -- even the president is Gray!)

That's President Gray in the gray and cardinal robes shaking my hand and about to hand me my diploma. The rain doesn't show up on my black robe (although the robe's cheap dye showed up all over the dress shirt I was wearing), but you'll notice the mud and moisture on the cuffs of Gray's gray trousers. Behind his back, Dean of Undergraduate Education Margaret MacVicar is reading the names, and in the background next to my left shoulder is former President Julius Stratton.

After the ceremony I met up with my parents and sister, went to a reception for my department, then connected with some of my Campus Crusade friends. After that, we dropped by the fraternity house so I could show my folks around. A brother gave me a copy of the Wheel of Fortune home game as a gift -- watching Wheel was a nightly ritual in our apartment, a four-bedroom flat in a brownstone at 128 Fuller St. that the fraternity leased for overflow housing. (We even named our victorious "treasure hunt" (road rally) team the Wheels of Fortune.)

Beyond that the memories grow dim. Seems like I ought to be able to remember where my sister and parents stayed that night, where we ate dinner. I remember that they couldn't spend as much time in Boston as I had hoped; Dad, who had been laid off by Oxy (Cities Service) the previous September, had a new job in another city. It was just one more way that graduation fell short of my hopes.

I remember seeing them off at Logan with several boxes of my stuff to take along as checked luggage. A few days later, I packed my grandfather's old Sedan De Ville with all my belongings and headed back to Oklahoma, where I had a girlfriend (almost in Oklahoma -- in Fayetteville) but no job yet. I took my time going home the southern route, enjoying gas at less than 60 cents a gallon, seeing my uncle in northern New Jersey, friends in Charlottesville and Birmingham, and my girlfriend in Fayetteville before pulling into the driveway in Tulsa.

I bought a little portable stereo at Radio Shack so I could listen to cassettes and record my thoughts as I drove. I still have the stereo, and I'm sure the cassette is around here somewhere. It would be interesting to hear what was on my mind.

This is my first trip back to Boston in about 15 years. I'll be attending some of the reunion activities and going to a reception and dinner in honor of my fraternity chapter's centennial. It's an opportunity to remember where I've come from and think about where I'm headed for the next 25 years. A prayer for clarity and inspiration would not go amiss.

UPDATE 2013/05/30: Revisited this entry after responding to a Colin Quinn tweet imagining himself as MIT's commencement speaker, and I think I remember a couple of details that I had forgotten when I wrote this. My parents and sister stayed at the Travelodge at Beacon and St. Paul in Brookline which was under renovation. It's now a Holiday Inn. If I recall correctly, I brought them bagels from Kupel's the morning after commencement. (Kupel's bagels were a Sunday morning tradition at ZBT. We even had an officer -- bagel chairman -- in charge of acquiring them.)

As for dinner the night of commencement, for some reason I remember a disappointing meal at 33 Dunster Street. Perhaps it was the next night that we had dinner at Chef Chow's in Coolidge Corner.

This coming Friday night, June 3, 2011, at 7:30 pm, the Tulsa Boy Singers will perform their spring concert at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th and Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. Tickets are $10 for adults, no charge for students.


The program includes both sacred and secular pieces. If you enjoyed the singing at the recent royal wedding, you know the beautiful sound a well trained boys' choir can produce. The Tulsa Boy Singers staff does a wonderful job of teaching the singers the skills and subtleties of vocal performance, continuing a tradition of more than 60 years.

  • Franz Josef Haydn, St. John of God Mass
  • Herbert Sumsion, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis
  • Thomas Tallis, If Ye Love Me
  • Hubert Parry, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
  • Stephen Chatman, Songs of a Prospector
  • Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer, Skylark
  • Loch Lomond
  • Homeland

That last piece, Homeland, is a setting of the British patriotic hymn, "I Vow to Thee My Country," which uses a theme from the Jupiter movement of Gustav Holst's "The Planets."

Learning to sing in ensemble not only teaches musical skills, it teaches self-discipline, concentration, cooperation, and teamwork. It's been a great experience for my son, now in his sixth year with the group. If you know a boy between ages 8 and 18 who can carry a tune, consider having him try out for TBS. An opportunity for a brief one-on-one audition will be available

A reception follows the concert. A fundraising raffle for a "Wall of Wine" will be held at the reception -- $5 buys a chance to win 20 bottles of wine. You do not need to be present to win (or to enter that matter).

Like all non-profits these days, Tulsa Boy Singers struggles to cover its very modest expenses. Your support by attending, buying raffle tickets, and donating will help this valuable opportunity for musical instruction and performance to continue to serve Tulsa into the future.

As a sample of what this group can do, here's a brief clip from their 2007 tour of Britain, singing in York Minster:

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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