An Arid and Dusty Hellscape?!

Stephen and I are in the middle of our first tiff. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. I admire his impressive intellect, his boyish good looks, his undeniable charm, and his sensational sense of humor but those attributes were dreadfully diminished when he mocked my fair city.

At the 25th minute of his 10-29 show Stephen Colbert crossed the line by saying, “Mars has long been thought of as an arid and dusty hellscape where no one would want to live. Which is why it is often called the Tucson of space.”

Oh, Stephen, you were almost right. You were only off by 90 miles. Everyone in Arizona knows that the place most similar to the hellscape of Mars is Phoenix. Don’t believe me? Compare the dust storm in The Martian with news footage of recent haboobs in Phoenix. ‘Nuff said.

I think we can patch things up. Stephen, I’ll happily give you a tour of Tucson so that you don’t embarrass yourself on national TV again. Oh, and when you come over, bring some ice cream. Americone Dream will do nicely…

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Greg’s Behind the Scenes Tour

My Aunt Coralie gets invited to the coolest events and often I’m fortunate to be her guest. The tour this week was led by the University of Arizona’s amazing Athletic Director, Greg Byrne (technically Vice President for Athletics but I think AD sounds better). Greg joined the UA in mid-2010 and we welcomed him with out of date facilities for fans and student athletes, aging buildings, luke-warm support for sports other than football and men’s basketball, and roughly a billion dollars in needed upgrades.

Boy, did he hit the ground running! No one expected Greg to improve the programs by this much this soon. He’s raised hundreds of millions in donations, overseen $72 million in improvements to Arizona Stadium, $30 million in upgrades at McKale, hired exciting, dedicated coaches, solidified UA branding, and increased awareness of UA throughout the state. He’s a dynamo and he’s all-in. During our tour he greeted every single athlete and coach by name (there’s well over 500 athletes alone).

There was a twinkle in his eye when he talked about future projects. He couldn’t share the details but based on what we’ve seen so far it is going to be great. And yes, I’m an alumnus but trust me his enthusiasm would’ve rubbed off on you too!

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Inside McKale: new floor, new lights, new seats, new sound system = nice!IMG_3690

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Inside the men’s basketball lounge with Greg, Trey Mason, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, and Gabe York. Great guys!

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Me, near mid-field, because it’s cool, yo!IMG_3722

According to Greg (and this list) male athletes don’t wear cups anymore, they wear girdles. Ah, so that’s where they all went!IMG_3728

View from the $10,000-season box. It does seat 4 people and comes with a buffet, access to an air-conditioned lounge that sells beer and wine, and the newest bathrooms in the stadium. And, nope, I didn’t buy one, they’re sold out!

Name Our Jaguar

Once native in the United States jaguars were extirpated by hunters encouraged by federal predator policies. In 1997 the jaguar was added to the Endangered Species Act but it wasn’t until 2014 that 764,207-acres were designated protected jaguar habitat (most of that here in southern Arizona).

The handsome male jaguar pictured below, weighing in at roughly 200 pounds, was first spotted in southern Arizona in 2011. Since then he’s been caught on film over 100 times by remote trail cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains, 30 miles south of Tucson. How do they know it’s the same animal? Just like snowflakes, the pattern of each jaguar is unique.

He is one of several jaguars that have been documented over the past 20 years in Arizona. So far all of them have been males. The last known female jaguar in the U.S. was killed by a hunter in the White Mountains of northern Arizona in 1963. Which means we may never have a breeding population here in the States.

It pleases me that they still roam free. Jaguars are magnificent; powerful and intelligent creatures. And as an apex predator their survival in an area means that the ecosystem is in decent shape.

The Center for Biological Diversity is running a contest to name this jaguar as part of a campaign to raise awareness of North America’s biggest cat. Head on over and cast your vote (plus you can look through his photo album).

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

Defense Class

I recently completed a free Rape Aggression Defense class taught by the Oro Valley Police Department. I am already careful to survey my surroundings and I try to avoid sketchy situations but I was interested to learn some defensive hands-on techniques.

There were 20 of us in attendance ranging in age from 15 to 65. I gained some powerful skills that I hope I never have to use. I really admired how some of the shy ladies came out swinging during our practice scenarios on the second day of class. It would be great to teach this to all women – especially during the high school or college years.

Thank you to the Oro Valley Police officers that taught our class and especially to the male officers that suited up to take our beatings!

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