Football (aka Soccer) IS the World’s Sport

All right, ya’ll I am chuffed (British informal English for delighted or pleased) about the US women winning the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada this weekend.  What an exciting final game with Japan!  The US team won in a decisive 5-2 score.  And Houston Dash’s own Carli Lloyd got the earliest hat trick in Women’s World Cup soccer history. She also won the Golden Ball trophy as the most valuable player.

Embed from Getty Images

I have to tell you that earlier in the tournament, I was also cheering for Japan.  Those women are also an exceptional team.  How could I root for Japan?  Well…you see, football (soccer to Americans) is a truly global sport.  It is estimated that 265 million people on the planet play it.  The World Cup finals are also the most watched sporting event around the globe…bar none.

It is an intercultural phenomenon.  Continue reading

Mount Kinabalu: Another Earthquake in Asia

Another mountain. Another earthquake.

Recently I wrote about the tragedy in the Himalayas.

This one REALLY hits close to home because I’ve been there and interacted with a culturally diverse group of climbers and guides in the beautiful Kinabalu Park in Malaysia. Earlier, I’ve mentioned that my husband and I lived there in the early 1990s and climbed to Mount Kinabalu’s magnificent summit. Again, I’ve had folks ask me questions about this part of the globe. So…


On the island of Borneo, Mount Kinabalu (or Gunung Kinabalu) is 50 kilometers (30+ miles) away from the capital city of the East Malaysian Sabah state known as Kota Kinabalu or “KK”. The mountain’s name when translated from the indigenous Kadazan-Dusun language into English is “the revered place of the dead”. There is also the theory that it is an indigenous translation from the Chinese “Cina Balu” which means “a Chinese widow”.  Island residents consider it a sacred place.

The mountain was at 4,095 meters (13,435 feet) before the earthquake and was still rising every year. Although it is relatively young, it is the highest one between the Himalayas and New Guinea. No one is sure of the exact impact of the earthquake, but we do know that the famous Donkey Ear’s Peak was reduced. Also, the trails to get back off of the mountain were severely damaged. This made it extremely difficult to rescue the climbers.

It is estimated that more than 150 people from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, India, Japan, Kazakhstand, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States were probably on the mountain when the earthquake struck. Unfortunately a number of climbers are dead and injured…including a group of primary school students and teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School in Singapore. According to local sources, the teachers from this school used their bodies to shield their students from the rocks and boulders that came crashing down. This does not surprise me as I lived and taught in Singapore as well. Teachers are very dedicated to their students there.

Additionally, the original group of official park guides (and then later an extra team of 75) did everything in their power to help the climbers stay safe during the quake and also get them off of the mountain…in the middle of the night. This is certainly in line with the climbing culture that my husband and I experienced while we were there.

Mount Kinabalu is popular with hikers from around the world because it is yet another United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site in Asia.

Although not as tough a climb as Mount Everest in Nepal, the mountain is certainly a challenge. The first ascent was made by the British colonial administrator Sir Hugh Low in 1851. Today, most people start at the Timpohon Gate which is at an altitude of 1,866 meters (6,122 feet). They then make it to the Laban Rata Resthouse at 3,270 meters (10,730 feet) to spend the night and acclimate to the high altitude. After that they rise to climb the bare granite rock to the summit of Low’s peak at dawn.

I must tell you that this is the most harrowing part of the journey. If it had not been for our Japanese climbing companion I could not have done it. I was scared to death of the vertical climb up the granite cliff. He told me to close my eyes and climb the rope with one hand over the other until we got to the top. (Now, do bear in mind that he had also climbed Mount Fuji and Mount Kilimanjaro so I just prayed and trusted that he knew what he was talking about.) It worked. I made it to the summit and back down without incident.

Nepal: Tragedy in the Himalayas

Gentleman in Durbar Square, Nepal

Gentleman in Durbar Square, Nepal

My…heart…is…broken.  The devastation to the Himalayan nation of Nepal due to the 7.8 earthquake is just gut-wrenching.  As you know, my husband and I traveled there in the early 1990s.

This is one of the poorest countries in the world…but they live in one of the richest environments of any people on earth.

Kathmandu (aka Kasthamandap Mahanagar), the capital city, is an ancient metropolis.  Established nearly 2000 years ago, it is nestled in a valley in the Himalayas.  It stands at approximately 4,600 feet.  It also lies in the shadow of the world’s best known mountain, Mount Everest.

At this point, we do not know the exact number of dead and injured.  It is estimated to be in the thousands.  Continue reading

In “Debate Mode”

NDT 2015

Announcement of 7th Round Pairings at the 2015 National Debate Tournament

OK. I am officially in “debate mode”.

I last wrote about being a member of the A. Craig Baird Debate Forum at the University of Iowa and getting ready to travel to the 69th Annual National Debate Tournament (NDT) that was being held there for the first time.

I have also just finished judging at the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) regional qualifier here in Texas. Additionally, my students are getting ready to start their own Lincoln Douglas debates in the final weeks of my “Argumentation and Advocacy” class.


Yes, it is that time of year…when the debate community really gets into high gear. Continue reading