Tag Archives: University of the Pacific

School Days

Where You Go (Nook Book)

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Process Mania by Frank Bruni (Grand Central Publishing, $25.00, 218 pages)

“For too many parents and their children, getting into a highly selective school isn’t just another challenge, just another goal. A yes or no from Amherst or Dartmouth… or Northwestern is seen as the conclusive measure of a young person’s worth, a binding verdict on the life that he or she has led up until that point, an uncontestable harbinger of the successes or disappointments to come. Winner or loser: This is when the judgment is made. This is the great, brutal culling. What madness. And what nonsense.”

Frank Bruni has the good sense to argue that adult life may begin with one’s acceptance into a college, but it does not end there. Students are responsible for what they make out of their education, whether at an elite or less well known university. As he states, “Great educations aren’t passive experiences; they’re active ones.” He builds up his case by noting that several prominent and successful leaders in our society attended smaller, less “prestigious” colleges. Condoleeza Rice, for example, attended the University of Denver as an undergraduate. Steve Jobs, of course, dropped out of college, as did Bill Gates. Did Rice and Jobs and Gates turn out to be losers? Failures? Not exactly.

Bob Morse, who heads the college rankings program at U.S. News & World Report, did not go to Harvard, Yale or Princeton. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati before getting his MBA from Michigan State. As Morse has concluded, “It’s not where you went to school. It’s how hard you work.”

Bruni emphasizes that some students will feel more comfortable at a small college offering a “more intimate academic environment,” even if schools like Kenyon, Denison, St. Lawrence or – a school I’m adding to his list – the University of the Pacific (UOP) are “less venerated than Princeton, Brown and Cornell.” For some, smaller colleges are “ideal environments: especially approachable, uniquely nurturing.” (UOP hangs banners reminding its students that it offers “Professors who know your name.”)

Pacific_Sign

In this calm, forthright book, Bruni tries to reduce the “madness” of the college admission process, noting that there are several inherent flaws and biases that applicants have little or no control over. For example, a particular college may need a couple of trombone players for the band. If you are the first or second trombone-playing applicant, you may get a large packet offering you admission and a scholarship. If you’re the third trombonist applicant, you’ll likely receive a thin envelope containing a rejection notice. If life, as John F. Kennedy stated, is not fair, than neither is the process of determining who gets into our colleges and universities.

Students who suffer the consequences of unfair admissions policies will learn that it will not be their last experience with life’s unfairness. What counts is their positive response to adversity and their perseverance in making the best of whatever circumstance they have to settle for.

Bruni’s book would be an excellent purchase for high school students who feel threatened by the highly competitive process of seeking admission to a so-called “elite” university. Reading his book may help such students to calm down, and feel encouraged to investigate various colleges, not just the “status” schools that their classmates may lust after. (Any school can offer a fine, valuable education to students ready to demand a lot from themselves and their environment.) This book is also a near indispensable guide for the parents of current high school students.

Where You Go… reminds the reader, young or old, high school student or adult parent, that “there’s no single juncture, no one crossroads, on which everything (in life) hinges.” Some, in fact, will find that a valuable lesson can be learned via being rejected by one’s top choice universities. One young woman, a graduate of the famed and “charmed” Phillips Exeter Academy, was rejected by all five of the colleges she applied to. She states that, “There’s a beauty to that kind of rejection, because it allows you to find the strength within.” That young woman started up a new federally-supported public elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona. A loser? Hardly.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. Thank you to Daniel D. Holt for serving as editor on this piece.

This review first appeared on the Blogcritics site:

http://blogcritics.org/book-review-where-you-go-is-not-wholl-youll-be-an-antidote-to-the-college-admissions-mania-by-frank-bruni/

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Once More, With Feeling

A review of You Should Be So Lucky, an album by Benmont Tench.

Benmont Tench

Benmont_Tench-353x

A review posted in the April 30, 1971, issue of the UOP Pacifican newspaper (“CSN&Y Present New Album: 4 Way Street is Dishonest”) dealt with the issue of honest and dishonest recordings. Although that article dealt with the release of a band’s carefully selected and edited live recordings, the discussion might be expanded to include solo recordings. With his first solo album, Benmont Tench has defiantly issued an honest record.

From Tench’s days with Tom Petty – days that began before they formed Mudcrutch, Tench has been experiencing life and the mysteries that come along with it. Touring with Bob Dylan in 1987 and his subsequent work with Mr. Dylan certainly added to his musical experiences.

Those listening to a concert or album bring their own baggage and then try to incorporate their thoughts, feelings and emotions into a composer’s work. Some cannot enjoy a Nick Drake album while others will play it over and over. When it comes to You Should Be So Lucky, I offer the notion of sitting back and leaving the analyst’s hat on the table. Jump on the musical roller coaster, put your head back and just listen. Sit back and enjoy the ride as this album is a good one. Tench’s album is an honest recording – one free of tricks and unnecessary adornments, that should be experienced for the pleasure and enjoyment it brings.

Well recommended.

Robert Gorham

Mr. Gorham is a Sacramento resident and a past president of the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library.

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Running Down A Dream

Saucony Grid Fastwitch 6 (2)

Running Shoe Review: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Is the Saucony Fastwitch 6 the antidote to too much cushioning in a street racer?

I was hoping that the new version of this lightweight street racer would prove to be the brightly shining star in Saucony’s galaxy of running shoes. Well, sometimes dreams come true and sometimes they don’t.

On first impression, the Fastwitch 6 is a beautiful shoe with a stunning orange and black color scheme that will be especially pleasing to graduates of Princeton, the University of the Pacific and UTEP. It’s also quite protective for a shoe that weighs in at slightly less than 7 ounces. Some of us likely have some old wool socks that weigh more than that!

The Fastwitch is unique in delivering a firm ride for a racing flat, feeling more like a European model than an American runner. Pull out the supplied insole and you’ll see that the top of the midsole feels rock hard. This seemed promising for runners who have become weary of overly-cushioned models.

The Fastwitch provides more than a modicum of control – it’s a performance stability racer, perhaps too stable for most runners looking for a low-to-the-ground flat. (I found myself wishing that it was a bit more neutral.) One of the positives about this shoe is that its structure supports a mid-foot landing. The heel cushioning is fairly neutral – neither overly stiff or soft; it’s just “there.”

Unfortunately, the Fastwitch 6 seems to be afflicted with two quite serious flaws. The first is the fit problem. I had to order a full size up (since I had heard rumors that it ran unusually short), and yet the shoe barely fit. I have narrow feet. Still, I had to put on an old thin, ragged, worn-out pair of Buffalo Chips Running Club socks in order to manage to squeeze my feet into the ‘witch 6. But this is not the worst of it…

The second problem is the innovative, irritating Flex Film upper from Saucony that’s used to reduce weight. That it does but at quite a cost. The Flex Film material is of the non-stretch, unforgiving sort. There’s not a tenth of an inch of “give” in it – there’s apparently no way of reducing the grip of the material on the sensitive upper part of the runner’s foot. It becomes a bit torturous rather quickly, and my body began to repeatedly send my brain a single message, “Let’s take this shoe off as soon as possible!”

If I had to run a half-marathon in the Fastwitch 6, I imagine that the top of my feet would look like Tillamook shredded cheese after completing 13.1 miles. It’s not a pleasant thought.

There’s much that’s promising about this edition of Saucony’s attractive road racer. Let’s hope that the folks at Saucony get on the case and fix the two big flaws in the Fastwitch when they release version 7.0. With a couple of repairs in place, the next Fastwitch might be more than just a daydream.

Joseph Arellano

This article originally appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-saucony-fastwitch-6/

Interestingly, these comments about the Fastwitch 6 appear in the current (March 2013) issue of Men’s Fitness magazine: “Road warriors get going with the supportive yet flexible Fastwitch 6. Its breathable upper and water-drainage ports make this Saucony one of the best all-rounders.” (Water-drainage ports? I didn’t see them on this shoe.)

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About Our Reviewers

Ruta Arellano – Ruta received her B.A. from the University of California, the one in Berkeley.   She served as the Associate Director of the California Self-Esteem Task Force and later worked as a research specialist with multiple state agencies.   She tends to read and review crime mysteries, popular fiction, survey books, books on art and interior design, business books and those books that are hard to classify.   Ruta also writes reviews for the New York Journal of Books, Sacramento Book Review and San Francisco Book Review.

Joseph Arellano – Joseph received his B.A. in Communication Arts from the University of the Pacific, where he wrote music and entertainment reviews for The Pacifican and the campus radio station, KUOP-FM.   He then received his J.D. (law degree) from the University of Southern California, which is why he’s pretty good at writing legal disclaimers.   He has served as a Public Information Officer for a state agency, which involved a lot of writing and editing work under heavy pressure and deadlines, and he was an adjunct professor at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS).   Joseph has done pre-publication editing and review work for a publisher based in England.   He also writes – or has written – reviews for New York Journal of Books, Sacramento Book Review, San Francisco Book Review, Portland Book Review and Tulsa Book Review.

Munchy – Munchy is a senior Norwegian Forest Cat of the brown tabby variety.   He only writes reviews of children’s books and only when he absolutely feels like it.   (His children’s book reviews have appeared in San Francisco Book Review and Sacramento Book Review.)   He intends to become the furry Publisher and Chief Feline Officer (CFO) of Brown Cat Books.

Dave Moyer – Dave is the author of the novel Life and Life Only and of several published short stories and essays.   He regularly reviews books for this site and for the New York Journal of Books.   Moyer is a former college baseball coach.   A music lover and Bob Dylan junkie, Moyer has played drums in various ensembles over the years (but not with the Rolling Stones).   He majored in English at the University of Wisconsin and earned a doctorate from Northern Illinois University.   Moyer is a school superintendent in Southeastern Wisconsin and is an instructor for Aurora University.   He currently resides in the greater Chicago area.

Kimberly Caldwell – Kimberly is a freelance writer and editor in Connecticut.   She earned a B.A. in Journalism and Business at Lehigh University, and earned her chops as a reporter and copy editor at a daily newspaper, an editor of electronic display industry news, neurology studies and romance novels, and as the general manager of an independent fine-dining restaurant.

Kelly Monson – Kelly is a former school principal and special education teacher who earned her Doctorate, Educational Specialist Degree, Master’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University and a second Master’s in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.   She is an avid reader and writer and travels extensively (with and without her three children).   She currently resides in the greater Chicago area.

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