Monday, February 19, 2007

Malia Fix, continued

Picking up where Blogger interupted us:
Plan Monday, Feb. 19, was to spend a day and a half getting home -- take a mountain route through CO rather than the I-25 route we've taken several times in the last year. Stop whenever we felt like it.
Stopped by to say good-bye to Malia and Valerie (Jeff gone to work) -- see picture at top of previous posting -- then headed down Hwy 285, SW from Denver, into the mountains. Forecast was for developing mountain snow during the day, but it was nice and clear to start with (don't mean to sound foreboding, so I'll tell you now that we didn't get trapped in a blizzard).

Here's a shot in the South Park area -- you can see the clouds looming over the mountain peaks. They increased through the day, but no rain or snow at our level. Just cold and windy.

Had lunch in Buena Vista -- see shot of historic courthouse. The Collegiate Range (Mt. Princeton, Mt. Harvard, etc.) was pretty much socked in, so we couldn't see the high mountains in this area. Drove through historic downtown Salida, but didn't stop to browse or shop -- some other time in better weather -- then south through the San Luis Valley and into New Mexico.

Stopped at Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Just before you get there, from the west, there is a settlement of unusual, partially underground houses. Sign said, I believe, Spaceship Earth. There is a visitor's center, so some time will have to stop and find out what that's all about -- 21st century version of Taos commune society, I would guess.

The reason for going through Taos was to do some prep work for a possible outing of St. John's RVers this summer. I had talked by phone to the preacher at El Pueblito United Methodist Church and wanted to meet him. Turned out he was in Albuquerque, but I had a nice visit with lady at the church with a group preparing a Mardi Gras dinner. We also scoped out a Taos RV park where we might stay.

By now, it was late afternoon, but rather than stay the night, we decided to head on home -- hard to stop when you're within a couple of hours at home.

Next up: trip to Grand Rapids, MI, first weekend in March, for granddaughter Kaci's performance as Laurie in OKLAHOMA! All four Hinkle siblings will be there for a reunion and more family fun.


Susie and Rob

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Malia Fix

Feb. 16, we drive to Denver to spend the weekend with Malia, Jeff, and Valerie. This would be our "Malia fix" Susie mentioned earlier, not having seen her, and them, since LAX returning from China. Because it's winter, we pack extra water, food, and blankets. Almost had to use them a half-hour from home.

I'll stick the last picture in here first -- three "Easterling girls" -- just to set the theme.

To catch I-25 east of Santa Fe when heading north we sometimes take county roads and state highways that lead east from our area. It was a windy day -- very strong wind from the north. As we drove east snow that had been around several days was being driven across the road -- looked almost like fast-flowing, frothy water. Actually, quite pretty, sun shining; sorry I didn't get a picture. No real problem driving for a while, though, as visibility was good and the snow was not accumulating on the road.

After about nine miles of this we got to a point where there were drifts on both side of the road, narrowing the road to one lane while the blowing snow really reduced visibility. Spotted a car stopped on the road ahead of us. We stopped and the car's driver came back and told us she couldn't go any further. We'd have to back up. We did so, for about 100 yards, hoping nobody would come up suddenly behind us, and got turned around in a driveway, back-tracked and then took the road north to Madrid, then Santa Fe, with no problems. Told Susie I could just see us in a ditch, all day, with our emergency supplies, 10 miles from home!

Whenever we get the opportunity we stop in Las Vegas, Susie's main home town, for a meal at the Spic and Span restaurant. We even planned ahead this time, very light breakfast at home, brunch at S and S. False start delayed us a bit, but we enjoyed it as always. Great Mexican food, tortillas prepared on site. Outstanding donuts, too. Uneventful journey after that: some periods of high wind; the usual construction slow-downs through Colo Springs.

(I love the drive from Las Vegas to Raton (some call it boring) -- majestic golden plains framed by mountains and mesas, punctuated by ranches and occasional tree-lined stream beds. Ah, New Mexico!)

Got to Highlands Ranch to find Malia decked out in a shirt her statistical grandpa got her (caption: I'm statistically significant). Didn't take her long to remember her China traveling companions.

For our Albuquerque friends, mark April 1 on your calendars: Malia will be baptized at our church -- St. John's United Methodist -- and there may be other opportunities to greet Malia and her family that weekend.

Saturday morning we stayed with Malia while her parents made a half-hour trip to Target. Both parents and child handled the separation well. Here we watch basketball -- getting psyched up for March Madness.

Saturday pm we all went down to the Cherry Creek Mall for some shopping and people-watching.

Later that evening, on the way to dinner, Susie started playing a game with Malia with a little soccer ball that made Malia laugh and giggle more than we'd heard her. All in all, a great day. Malia, of course, did exceptionally well.

Sunday morning Susie and I drove to nearby Parker, CO, where my boyhood friend, Dennis Clark, preaches and shepherds his flock. Dennis and I go back to the summer before I was in sixth grade. We lived in Manhattan, KS, and Dennis was spending the summer there, living on the same block, while his dad was in summer school. My dad had just gotten the job of president of Northern Oklahoma Jr. College, in Tonkawa. He needed to hire a band instructor. I told him, my friend Dennis's father is a HS band director -- hire him. He did, and Dennis's Mom later became my Dad's secretary. (Small world dept.: The Clarks were in Hope, KS, at the time, home town of Albuquerque/St. John's friends, Anita and Loren Keller.) We palled around together and with a third musketeer, James Gilbert, all the way through high school. Then, I went to OSU, they went to OU, but, hey, can't hold a grudge forever.

Sunday evening we celebrated Chinese New Year with two other couples with adopted Chinese daughters by going to a nearby Chinese restaurant. Another good time was had by all. Here, Susie corrals the three girls for a picture. Btw, all four girls are wearing Chinese garb -- Susie's jacket from Guangzhou.
Blogger apparently has a space limit, so I'll continue this report in a separate posting.
Rob and Susie

Oklahoma, Feb. 07

Because I contemplate possibly teaching at Oklahoma State U, my alma mater, some day, I contacted the stat dept in January and said I come to OK every once in a while to visit family, so I wondered if I might come to Stillwater to visit the dept some time, give a seminar, and talk about teaching possibilities. In particular, I'd like the visit to coincide with an OSU home basketball game, especially if somebody could find me a ticket. For the marquee games, at least, the tix tend to be sold out.

So, I was invited to give a seminar Friday, 2/9, and a request was sent out to find a ticket for me for the Sat. game against Texas Tech. On two-week notice, I committed, thinking surely a ticket would come available.

Nothing was forthcoming from the dept contacts, so a few days before my visit I got into a couple of e-bay auctions, but dropped out when prices went over $100 (regular prices are $25 - $40). Decided I'd take my chance with sidewalk scalpers on game day.

Thursday, flew to OKC and spent the night with my Mom, sister, Verla, and her family in nearby Edmond, then drove to Stillwater (about 1 hr. away) Friday morning.

But first, the big entertainment event Thursday night was to go to rock concert by Luma, a band (oops, I should define them as alternative rock) that two of my nephews play in -- my sister, Connie's sons Marcus and Stephen. If you go to the Luma website, which may be the first time any of you dared to go to, the first and third guys in the picture are them. The venue was called the Jazz Lab, sponsored by the U of Central OK, there in Edmond. Some name acts have played there, so being booked there was a big deal. Also, the show was being taped for a Live album. There was a large, enthusiastic crowd. My nephews, Stephen on lead guitar (electric, need I say) and Marcus on bass were all over the stage like good rockers are supposed to do. Amazing! Verla and I left before concert was over -- so I could go over my notes -- but we found out later that neighbors called police to complain about noise, so it was a great success.

Friday, in Stillwater: checked with the ticket office -- nothing reserved, but general admission tickets would go on sale, on-line, that evening at 6:00. But, that would require lining up a few hours in the cold before the game, so decided I'd stick with the scalper plan.

Several years back I had met the receptionist at the Alumni Association office and found that she was married to good acquaintance from Tonkawa -- Bob Vincent, class of '61 (vs. my class, '60). So, I looked her up and had a good visit, but, alas, no ticket leads. Also roamed the campus a bit -- here's quad with library at end, student union on right.

Meanwhile, why am I here? Oh, yes: statistics. Had lunch with dept chairman and a prof who came to OSU the year I graduated -- 1967. We've gotten to know each other well over the years. Lunch was at a nice on-campus cafe that the hotel and restaurant admin dept runs as a way for its students to get to know the business.

Gave seminar -- Passion-Driven Statistics. No doubt many of you recall I started flogging this theme with seminars at SMU and Abilene Christian a couple of years ago. The idea is that it is subject-matter enthusiasm and smarts, say in medicine, science, restaurant management, whatever, that leads to good statistical plans and analyses. But, you could never tell that from many of our texts -- boring. I name names, give examples. Got pretty good eyeball to eyeball feedback during the talk, but was disappointed at absence of questions and comments afterwards. Oh, well.

Also was disappointed to find that two of my profs who live in Stillwater had not been notified about my visit. I called Dave Weeks, who was my thesis advisor and is partly responsible for my concerned view of statistics, but no answer. Back to Edmond for pizza dinner at my other sister's, Connie, house.

Saturday morning I called the Weeks' residence again to set up a visit with Dave and Shirley either before or after the game. When I innocently mentioned that I was planning to buy ticket from scalper, Shirley insisted I use her ticket. So, I got to their house about an hour before game time, then went with Dave to historic Gallagher-Iba Arena for the game.

Back when I was a callow undergrad at OSU I liked to hang out at then Gallagher Hall just to watch "Mr. Iba" coach. Back before the shot clock, when basketball was really basketball. Since then Gallagher has been expanded, essentially by building a shell over the old gym and putting seats into the space created -- from 6000+ seats to 13,000+. The Wikipedia says it's one of the country's best, and rowdiest, college basketball arenas. It turned out that there were quite a few empty seats -- season ticket no-show, I guess. I didn't have time to see how much scalper action was going on, though.

The game was worthy of its setting -- a double overtime victory over Texas Tech, with OSU miraculously overcoming large deficits in the last minute of regulation time and the first overtime. Shirley had a pot of soup ready after the game and we had a nice visit before I returned to Edmond just in time to see nephew, Sterling, in a city-league basketball game.

Sunday morning was church with Verla, son Sterling, and Mom, then after lunch we all went to an Edmond nursing home where Verla played the guitar (acoustic) and led the singing and her husband, Clarence, taught a Bible lesson. Mom and Verla sang a nice duet -- this picture.

There was an OSU-OU wrestling match at Gallagher-Iba on Sunday afternoon, but I forewent that -- had spent enough time on the road between Edmond and Stillwater. OSU won big, as usual.

Brought back memories of when I was a grad student there and Tonkawa friends, Dennis Clark and James Gilbert, both OU students at the time, came to come visit the weekend of a OSU-OU wrestling match. Well, the match was going so much in OSU's favor that Dennis and James decided to leave before it was over -- beat the crowd and avoid having to listen to the OSU fans gloat in victory. BUT, after they left OU rallied -- won a couple of matches over heavily-favored Cowboys and won the match. Too bad, guys.

Oh, nothing was decided about teaching at OSU -- maybe spring 08. I ain't going unless I can get basketball season tickets, though.



Next weekend to Denver, so we can return this blog to its Malia theme.