December 25, 2011
Sports News

Hey Everyone,

I am safe and sound in America and want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! As many of you have already seen me, I’m guessing you have stopped following this blog. If not, check out the next blog I will be using, which is going to involve a weekly sports new article about Denver. It will be better maintained come late january.

Happy Holidays,

Henry

December 12, 2011
Sports News

I just took a job working on as a staff writer at my school Newspaper, The Catalyst. While exciting, I will add that by no means is this a great feat. They were in need of another writer. I can write about whatever I want, so I think I’ll be doing weekly pieces on Denver Sports Teams. I will be pairing my articles with a sports blog (possibly by converting this one).

My advisor Steve Hayward says that writing should always be fun, or you shouldn’t be a writer. I have a lot of fun writing sports journalism, because nowadays all of these journalists are writing the same way and using a hackneyed rhetoric. I like to shake things up and get creative. Here is my first article:

The Broncos Eye The Playoffs: Denver’s Team is so foreign to the NFL that it is looking more and more like it’s from a galaxy far, far away

By Henry McKenna

Denver’s Defense

            On the dark side of the ball, Denver should consider itself lucky it does not have to game plan for Tim Tebow, because all of the other teams in this league try to throw the ball around forty times a game. This plays into Denver’s strength, who have a punishing tandem of explosive pass rushers. Once a young padawan with endless potential, Von Milleris has quickly turned into the Darth Vader of pass rushing in the AFC West. His comrade, Elvis Dumervil, has complemented him like the Vader’s predecessor Darth Maul, and together they fight lineman for control of the pocket. With 10.5 sacks, Miller uses the dark side of the force to choke the offense’s neck and rushes the quarter back to either make a bad decision or get swiftly dropped to the ground in a breathless state. One moment that stood out to me was on a third down in overtime at San Diego. Miller used quick hands, like light sabers, and evaded the lineman’s block. This rush got him a huge tackle-for-loss. San Diego’s kicker, around five yards deeper than a play earlier, missed the uprights by a slim margin. This handed the ball over to Tim Tebow, who did not flinch in leading the team to a field goal and the victory. The best part about this defense is that even if the pass-rush can’t get to the quarterback, Brian Dawkins sits and waits to strike, like the Darth Sidious, The Emperor. He directs his fellow defensive players, while getting his hands dirty at the same time by rushing the passer and getting tackles for loss in the rushing game. Major Wright is a young guy out of Florida, and he is starting to develop his play reading ability. Finally, you can’t mention Denver’s defense without mentioning Champ Bailey, anchoring this defense year in and year out.

John Fox’s Coaching Job

            John Fox, unfortunately in no way looks like Yoda, but he has certainly done a good job setting another young savior up to succeed. Any other year, he would deserve the Coach of the Year award. Jim Harbaugh, however, has elevated his team’s performance like he is using Jedi mind tricks to relax Quarterback Alex Smith. Regardless of the award, he has thought of an offense so foreign that he must have been looking at football leagues in Tatoine (or my high school coach’s playbook). His rushing attack has stumped defenses, and created long drives that eliminate their opponent’s time of possession. Then, their effective defense limits their opposing team’s point total, so that a certain quarterback can win them the game.

The Rushing Attack

            On the light side of the ball, Tim Tebow, the Luke Skywalker of a desperate Denver metropolis, is channeling the force to win games. His thumping rushes present all sorts of game plan issues for opposing defenses in a predominantly passing league. Don’t get me wrong. He won’t be able to take his team to the playoffs without his defense, but the same could be said about any quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady. Great defenses are how teams win Championships in any sport. Period. I won’t jump to any conclusions by saying the Broncos team is going to win the Super Bowl. They do, however, have the most rushing yards in the NFL, which is a result of the most clutch, Jedi, I mean quarterback in the NFL right now. Tebow’s read option has opened up a rushing advantage for Willis McGahee, who has found the Bronco in himself and has been running wild. Tebow’s passing statistics are getting better too, probably as a result of the run setting up an easier passing game. Ironically, the two players that Josh MacDaniels (the predecessor of John Fox) drafted have found a bond that he was hoping for. Too bad he isn’t there to say I told you so, and he can’t exactly boast about what he’s done with the Rams. Anyways, watch Demaryius Thomas and Tebow build their connection in the upcoming weeks. This connection is particularly important because, historically, teams tend to catch on to game planning against an NFL option attack, and frankly Tebow will need some help elevating his passing game to a respectable level. This young receiver has the physical gifts to be Chewbacca out there, terrorizing defenders like they are storm troopers.

Schedule

            As they trust the force, I see a schedule ahead that can keep the Broncos (from far, far away) in wildcard contention. Once they make the playoffs, they will be a matchup nightmare for the poor team that did not get the first round bye. This week, they face an injured Chicago, who is missing their two offensive studs, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. To put the cherry on top, Von Miller sounds like he will be back from injury for that game. Then, they have a tough game against New England that Denver will probably lose at home. The following week, they will have to stifle the Bills offense in Buffalo, which has been done by five strait teams. Finally, they should finish the season with a close game and a victory in Kansas City.

December 9, 2011
brentcrane:

Sam Mitchell
Rest in peace, you will be missed.   

Sam Mitchell was the academic director of my SIT program. In November, he passed away. I wrote this for his wife, our program director, in his memory:
Sam Mitchell’s quest for knowledge was beyond admirable, it was contagious. While the saying goes, “you learn something new everyday,” one thing was never enough for Sam, who would try to learn more about the world in one day, than many do in a lifetime. Sam’s most beautiful quality radiated from him, warming all those nearby. This was his desire: to share the findings of his curousity. He could probably teach a monkey The Noble Eightfold Path to Enlightenment. He will be immensely missed, but I hope we all take comfort in the fact that he still lives on as the definition of the word “mentor.”
(Photo Credit Goes to Brent Crane)

brentcrane:

Sam Mitchell

Rest in peace, you will be missed.   

Sam Mitchell was the academic director of my SIT program. In November, he passed away. I wrote this for his wife, our program director, in his memory:

Sam Mitchell’s quest for knowledge was beyond admirable, it was contagious. While the saying goes, “you learn something new everyday,” one thing was never enough for Sam, who would try to learn more about the world in one day, than many do in a lifetime. Sam’s most beautiful quality radiated from him, warming all those nearby. This was his desire: to share the findings of his curousity. He could probably teach a monkey The Noble Eightfold Path to Enlightenment. He will be immensely missed, but I hope we all take comfort in the fact that he still lives on as the definition of the word “mentor.”

(Photo Credit Goes to Brent Crane)

December 8, 2011
Tibetan Migration

All of tumblr.com has already been blocked by the Chinese government, and (sadly) with only a week left in China, I think I can start giving everyone a better idea what I have been studying over the last month. Here is the abstract for my paper:

Abstract:

            Though Tibetan nationalism is dwindling in Tibet (by Tibet I refer to the three provinces of Lhasa, Amdo, and Kham in China and not in reference to The Tibet Autonomous Region), Tibetans have established Diasporas in India with extreme national pride. For the Tibetans who aren’t born in India, others will make the pilgrimage to learn more about their culture. The situation in India is appealing from an educational and even a fiscal standpoint, so some choose to linger or even start a new life. However, most Tibetans have pushed aside the so-called opportunity of west, so that they can return home in China. Unfortunately, they find upon return that their education in India does not help them improve their life and must deal with more adversities than expected. Dealing with issues like unemployment and ever-changing family roles, many Tibetans struggle to live in their own country. Using Shangri-La as a case study, this paper focuses on: the quality of life in China for these returning Tibetans; Shangri-La’s yield of success to Tibetans; and proves the pilgrimage a process worth undertaking.

Let me know if you are interested in reading more by emailing me at:

henry.mckenna@coloradocollege.edu 

December 4, 2011
Back in Kunming

Leaving Dali:

I arrived in Dali around a week ago and immediately entered culture shock. My hostel was filled with foreigners and everyone spoke English. Still, the hostel was very cheap and very nice, which encouraged me to stay there for the week. Still, I escaped the laowai enclave early and often, but only found more laowai walking the streets of Dali. I joke with Priscilla later that we were actually in the states all along. I kept chipping away at my paper anyways. But when other friends rolled into town, I discovered a puzzling inverse relationship. As more friends arrived, I began to write less and less pages of my paper. I know it stumped me too. Regardless, I knew that it was time to leave the fairy tale world of Chinese Old Towns. I caught a train to Kunming last Friday.

Kunming:

I have been quite productive this weekend, and finished my first draft of my paper Sunday! However, as many of you know, I am not a good proofreader and a typo-machien. This means that I will have to do quite a few drafts, so the tough part has really just begun. I also have to prepare a presentation for Wednesday (I believe). THE GREAT NEWS IS THAT I GOT TO PLAY FRISBEE. At practice on Saturday, I felt like a golden retriever drooling while his master gets ready to throw the frisbee. I practiced with the full team here in Kunming for the first time. They consist of 7 American ex-pats and 2 Chinese guys. They are more or less like the small team that I played with in Spain. The next day I threw around with their captain, and we chatted strategy. Afterwards, we traded jerseys as a sign of respect. He has become a good friend of mine here, and hopefully he and I will get to throw together a few more times before I head home on the 15th.

December 1, 2011

Hu Tiao Shan (The Sights Part 2):

The bottom right and top one are views from the guest house I stayed in. I spent Thanksgiving there, and ate the closest thing to Turkey as I could find: chicken dumplings… I know, I know not even close. Still, after a long day of hiking, I was content with everything around me. I sat alone at my dinner table while the Chinese family that owned the place chattered inside. The sun was setting, my legs were tired from carrying the smile on my face all day. I couldn’t help but think of my birthday that I spent spent alone at HMI. We did a solo camping experience for 36 hours. It was my favorite birthday.

However I couldn’t help but associate with the Tibetans I had spoken with about India. Sometimes you have to be in a foreign land to really appreciate your own traditions and your family. Love you guys.

December 1, 2011

Hu Tiao Shan (The Sights Part 1):

I went hiking in a place called Tiger Leaping Gorge for about 1 1/2 days. It’s a gorgeous place that, depending on how you define a “gorge,” is the largest in the world. Some consider The Grand Canyon to be larger.

The place is really interesting from a developmental standpoint. There are guesthouses along the path, and so you can stop for lunch and get some restaurant food. This allows all sorts of hikers that would not normally make a hike that gains so much elevation. One example: I hike behind two Chinese men in sweatsuits and their scent illuminated that they spent way too much money on cologne.

The trail itself has advertisements for all of the guest houses spray-painted on rocks. You also have to look out for Chinese people waiting for you to take photo’s “on their rock,” which they can charge you a few kuai for. The irony is that none of the picture I will feature are worth any kuai, because for one reason or another, the rocks were really not that great spots to take photos.

November 28, 2011

We decided to stay in Fei Lai Si for two nights. On the second day, we were getting a little bored and decided to go for a hike. We had already gone for one that traversed a car trail and led to a viewpoint on the side of a mountain. Instead we looked upwards and saw an area covered in prayer flags, and a modern-looking temple with conservative red walls and a yellow roof. Frankly, the temple looked boring and prayer flags are always beautiful, so we decided to head that way. As we made our way over, we found that there was not just one path, but nearly 1,000 ways to get to the top of this hill. This meant that there was no particularly easy way up the mountain. Most of the 1,000 ways lead through bushes and thorns. Finally, when we arrived to the top, we realized what we had been aiming for. The area appeared to be nothing more than a cell phone tower… and yet somehow it was still bizarrely beautiful. Priscilla and I chatted about the focuses of our papers (but mostly just the focus of my paper, because she already had hers like three weeks ago), and then we headed down the most worn trail. This lead through a construction zone or two higher on the hill. Of course in a communist society, everyone was trying to capitalize on mountain front property. Soon enough we were back in our hotel rooms, watching James Bond or Fast and the Furious eating instant noodles. Life was pretty good.

November 28, 2011

So these pictures might be a little misleading at first but here goes the story: After finishing up my interviews in Shangrila, I met up with Priscilla and decided to get as close to the Tibet Autonomous Region as we could. We headed north to Dequin on a bus ride that is notoriously the “Most Beautiful Bus Ride in China.” It certainly rivaled the one I wrote about on the way to Lugu Lake. Nonetheless, we arrived in Dequin and were told by our hotel receptionist that there was nothing to do there. We walked around the entire city in around a half hour, and agreed. I felt bad because I suggested that this place would be really beautiful. Instead, the city was dirty and trying desperately to develop. Metal beams zigzagged through the skyline, hinting at resorts, and areas were boarded off for construction in most of the city. A depressing man-made river flushed most of the cities garbage downhill to nowhere in particular. Still, styrofoam, poop, and torn clothing could be seen caught in the middle or on the concrete embankments. This was not the city we wanted to be in. I decided to call a friend from Shangrila, who might be able to give us a little advice on where to go. Perhaps, he could help us salvage our trip. So, in the freezing cold room with a red smudge on the wall that we hoped was just a phone number written in red (probably done by a freelance prostitute), I phoned Dokpa. He told us that we had to go to this temple called Fei Lai Si. The next day we ventured that direction, and I realized that this place had a redemptive quality. It was a jumping point to get to a little town in view of China’s sacred mountain. The top photo is the temple, after which the village is named. The bottom two are the view from our window. Pretty darn lovely to wake up every morning to that view. It kept me off the paper I was supposed to be pre-writing.

November 25, 2011

Currently, I am in Dali. The truth is that I have had internet the whole way here, but I have not really wanted to put time into a blog. Now, I have some time (as I am procrastinating and should be beginning a big research paper).

The top photo is one of the streets in Shangrila. Chinese people love their wedding photos, and so people travel to Shangrila to take wedding photos on this street. It took me back to the Tanhka academy where I was staying.

The bottom ones are of Shangrila (the place where I was doing my ISP) and a small temple on top of the hill where I took the photo of Shangrila. I tried running up this hill to get into better shape, but since I was at 10,000 feet I ussually wheezed my way up the hill slower than I might have hoped.

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