That was the stern warning from Alice, the Flying Jayhawks’ Edinburgh-based tour guide for a weeklong glide through the understated wonders of sunny (!) Scotland.
Alice had haggis on her mind because it had recently come to her attention that our hotel—a charming, 19th-century school just a few blocks downhill from the magnificently restored Stirling Castle—had recently begun offering haggis at its breakfast buffet. She never explained exactly why this was such a bad thing—“It’s just not done,” she said, utterly exasperated—yet Alice was clear: She was none too pleased about the cultural faux pas.
Alice did not have much to worry about. We did not eat the haggis at breakfast. Most of us sampled the native dish at our welcome dinner, which featured a “Haggis Ceremony,” complete with a bagpiper, a big knife, and an energetic narrator who told us much about … well, we’re not quite sure of the details, because his Scottish brogue was a bit thick, but he was friendly and fun and a good time was had by all before finally falling into our beds for badly needed sleep.
Scotland’s beloved delicacy
Enough with the haggis. But as long as we’re on the topic of beloved national delicacies, did we mention the Scotch? That’s whisky without the “e,” and we sampled the good stuff after a tour of Scotland’s oldest working distillery, Glenturret, just outside the town of Crieff. It’s a single-batch distillery that offers its lovely golden elixirs as its own (expensive) label, but also sells much of its production run to The Famous Grouse, a blender that has become the biggest-selling brand of Scotch in the world.
Back to the beginning
But that was a highlight of Day Seven. Back to the beginning. Our travelers commenced their Alumni Holidays International journey by gathering at Edinburgh International Airport. The 19 Jayhawks were joined by smaller groups from Johns Hopkins, McGill, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State universities, and we all made our acquaintances during an hour-long bus ride from Edinburgh—which was awash in festivalgoers attending a slew of international events in the Scottish capital city—to Stirling, an old, hillside town awash in history and our home for the next nine days.
Led in grand fashion by travel director Carole Petipher, a high-energy Brit who specializes in all things French yet delights in her occasional assignments to Scotland, our merry band spent the morning of our first full day touring Stirling Castle, childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. The “stirring vistas from the ramparts” promised in our brochure delivered splendidly, despite a cold rain that dampened no moods.
If we feared that first morning’s weather might have been an omen, we were wrong. Except for one or two brief, fast-moving storms, our nine days in Scotland were so sunny and delightful that the locals seemed a bit out of sorts. Scots are so used to complaining about their weather, we were told, that they refuse to cease their grumbling just because a little bit of sunshine.
After starting our days with history lectures from a retired local professor straight out of central casting—John was upset not about breakfast haggis, but rather the U.K.’s shocking vote to leave the European Union—we continued our journeys through the towns and countryside surrounding Stirling: the magnificent Loch Lomond in The Trossachs National Park, the golf mecca of St. Andrews, battlefields and monuments, castles and palaces.
Highlights of the trip
Aside from the friendships forged among fellow travelers, the trip’s highlight was attending the legendary Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, aptly described as a “compendium of precision marching bands, drill teams, pyrotechnics and Highland dancing performed on the floodlit esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.” Those AHI brochure writers, they’re good, and they’re right. Wow. Just … wow.
The “military tattoo” ceremony originates from 18th-century regimental bands that struck up their tunes to alert garrisoned troops to “quit the saloons and return to the barracks.” That part of the custom, however, seems to have been lost to the haze of history, because nobody in Edinburgh that night—absolutely nobody—was quitting anything or returning anywhere. We attended on the final night of the monthlong series of performances, an evening that also marked the end of the Edinburgh International Festival, featuring opera, music, theatre and dance performances throughout the heart of the gorgeous old town, as well as the cultural stalwart’s now-thriving cheeky cousin, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, described as the “largest arts festival in the world.”
On the day of our visit, literally millions of festivalgoers flooded Edinburgh’s cobblestone sidewalks, making navigation difficult yet filling the crisp air with an energy that cannot be replicated.
Such are the joys of travel, those special days and nights when you see, hear, taste and feel things that cannot be described, only experienced. Join us for your own adventure of a lifetime. Become a Flying Jayhawk and see your special corner of the world with your own eyes.
The Flying Jayhawks trip to Scotland took place August 23-31, 2017, and was hosted by Chris Lazzarino, associate editor of Kansas Alumni magazine. Watch the slideshow below to see more pictures from the trip, or view the photos on Flickr. Pictures may be downloaded for personal use. For more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, visit our website.
Retired University Architect and former U.S. Navy Seabee Warren Corman, e’50, on Sunday was honored during a “Salute to Service” ceremony during Sporting Kansas City’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Corman, 91, was among the combat construction engineers thrust in April 1945 into the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of the Pacific campaign, and he has since carried the Seabees’ motto with him in every facet of his life’s work: “If it’s difficult, we do it immediately; if it’s impossible, we take several days.”
Only 18 at the time, with no wife or children waiting for him back home, Corman remained in Okinawa for another year after the end of the war. Upon his return, Corman hustled through his coursework with trademark energy, completing five years of coursework in four and graduating in 1950 with a degree in architectural engineering.
Corman’s early career
Shortly after joining the state architect’s office, Corman assisted with the design and construction of Allen Field House. He worked for the state of Kansas until 1957, when he was lured to Delaware when DuPont promised him a big boost in pay and lifetime employment; a depression hit the East Coast six months later, DuPont closed its architecture office, and Corman then spent two years with a small Wilmington firm.
Once he and his family made their way back to Kansas, Corman spent seven years with two Topeka firms before joining the Board of Regents in 1966.
A return to KU
Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway in 1997 convinced Corman to return to his alma mater as University architect and special assistant to the chancellor, posts he held until his December 2010 retirement—an unlikely event that, in fact, did not last long, as Corman joined the School of Engineering as the dean’s construction adviser, a position he held until 2015.
Now fully retired, Corman maintains close ties with the University as an executive committee member serving the Association’s KU Veterans Alumni Network.
Salute to service
Veterans Network secretary Randy Masten, g’03, a retired Army officer and assistant director of KU’s Office of Graduate Military Programs, nominated Corman for the Sporting KC honor, and was on hand to cheer both his beloved Sporting KC as well as a distinguished Jayhawk who has done so much in service to his alma mater, his home state and his country.
“Randy goes to all the games, and he told me afterward that when I was introduced as a veteran of the last battle of World War II, a guy sitting next to him said, ‘That guy must be lying about his age. He can’t be World War II. He must be Vietnam.’”
Corman chuckles as he shares the anecdote—which he usually does when telling his stories—but he also fights back a sudden well of emotion. For more than 40 years, Corman remained silent about his Okinawa experiences even with his family; now, though still blessed with a nimble step and youthful spirit, Corman knows that he is among the last survivors of his great and brave generation, and so he accepts salutes such as the one he received Sunday in memory of all of his combat comrades.
“They were really so nice,” Corman says of staff and fans at the Sporting KC match, as he regains his voice after a brief moment of reflection. “Everything about the day was nice. Really a wonderful honor.”
Warren Corman was the subject of a cover feature in Kansas Alumni magazine, issue no. 5, 2011, as he closed the books on his long career. You can read the full article online. Photos by Steve Puppe.
Jayhawk Loral O’Hara, a 2006 graduate of the KU School of Engineering’s aerospace engineering program, on Wednesday was introduced as one of 12 members of NASA’s 2017 astronaut candidate class. After her KU graduation, O’Hara earned a master’s degree at Purdue University. Until joining NASA for the arduous astronaut selection process, O’Hara most recently worked as a research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
O’Hara, e’06, was born in Houston and reared in nearby Sugar Land, Texas. When her NASA class was introduced during a ceremony at Johnson Space Center, O’Hara was quick to note her joy in reaching a lifelong dream in her hometown.
“Growing up in Houston, I had Johnson Space Center right down the road and I was able to visit often,” O’Hara said. “My second-grade class even got to grow tomato plants that flew on the space shuttle, a program that I actually recently just found out is going on today with students flying seeds on the International Space Station. Those early experiences really hooked me and are a big part of what ignited the dream to be an astronaut.”
Among her diverse interests, O’Hara is a private pilot, scuba diver, surfer, sailor, spelunker, painter, certified EMT and wilderness first responder, and she noted that her unusual hobbies helped her join NASA’s latest astronaut candidate class.
“I’ve always been really curious and loved trying new things, learning new skills,” O’Hara said. “I’ve just been fortunate that the experiences that I have always gravitated toward are also those that helped me get up here today, things like fixing engines and flying and diving.”
She reports for duty in August to begin two years of astronaut training, after which she will be assigned technical duties in NASA’s astronaut office while awaiting her first flight assignment.
A study published Wednesday in the prestigious journal Nature could obliterate all previous notions about the earliest human migration to North America, from the current consensus of about 15,000 years ago to a staggering 130,000 years ago.
This startling claim is made by a scientific team that features two KU doctoral alumni: lead author Steven Holen, PhD’02, director of the Center for American Paleolithic Research in South Dakota, and co-author Jared Beeton, PhD’07, professor of physical geography at Adams State University in Colorado.
Holen, Beeton and nine other colleagues from the U.S. and Australia have long studied mastodon bones unearthed during a 1992 highway construction project in San Diego County, California. The first scientists at the site, from the San Diego Museum of Natural History, began the arduous process of documenting the site, including a puzzling jigsaw of large rocks, which seemingly could not have been a naturally occurring part of the silt layer in which the bones were found, and crushed mastodon bones.
They eventually concluded that marks on the bones could only have been made by the rocks, perhaps in an attempt to extract bone marrow from leg bones, and that the rocks could not otherwise have been placed at the site by natural geological processes.
Their research then took a startling turn when scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey dated the mastodon bones to 130,000 years ago, give or take 9,400 years, and the San Diego site suddenly became perhaps the most important archaeological find in recent memory.
“If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet,” The New York Times reported April 26. “The earliest widely accepted evidence of people in the Americas is less than 15,000 years old. … If humans actually were in North America over 100,000 years earlier, they may not be related to any living group of people. Modern humans probably did not expand out of Africa until 50,000 to 80,000 years ago, recent genetic studies have shown.”
Beeton was the first graduate student in KU’s Odyssey Archaeological Research Program, which offers KU undergraduate and graduate students field experience in finding evidence of the earliest people to inhabit the central Great Plains.
The Odyssey program, directed by Rolfe Mandel, g’80, PhD’91, University Distinguished Professor of anthropology, was launched in 2003 with an endowment from Joseph and Ruth Cramer.
“I still remember Joe saying to me, ‘Rolfe, I’m not just putting this money up for you to go out and wander around looking for sites. I want you to train students to go out and look.’ And that’s exactly what happened,” says Mandel, also interim director of Kansas Geological Survey, which conducted blind testing of soil samples collected at the San Diego site. “It’s gratifying to see that it works. Joe Cramer would have loved to have heard that this is an example of where his investment produced a student who went out and pushed the envelope.
“If he were alive he’d be very gratified, but it’s also very gratifying to me, regardless of how this all shakes out. It may turn out this site’s a bust. That could happen. But regardless of that, I’ve got to give them credit for looking, and certainly for pushing the envelope. I do sort of feel like these are my children going out and doing what I told them to try to do.”
Joseph Ducreux’s painting “Le Discret,” one of the Spencer Museum’s iconic and most-popular paintings, will headline an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, beginning in May. This article was originally published in issue no. 2, 2017, of Kansas Alumni magazine.
Is he shushing noisy children, warning of dire political dangers, or something else? Even the title of Joseph Ducreaux’s “Le Discret” hints at ambiguity. Silence? Discretion? Shades of both?
Such range of content within an otherwise uncomplicated image helped establish “Le Discret,” which has been on near-continuous display at KU since it s951 acquisition, as an icon of the Spencer Museum of Art’s collection. Now it will take its charms to a larger audience as the headliner of “America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting,” an exhibition from May 21 to Aug. 20 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
“This work has a lot of personality,” says Susan Earle, the Spencer’s curator of European and American art. “It’s a great way to represent us, to share that Kansas is a place with a lot of interesting culture that people may not be aware of. That might just be a revelation to some people.”
As First Painter to Queen Marie Antoinette, Ducreux feared for his life during the French Revolution and fled for a time to London. Forced afterward to reinvent himself, Ducreux ventured beyond the norms of high-society portraiture by painting self-portraits that depicted expressions then rare in fine art: yawning, laughing, crying, mocking, shushing.
Earle describes the 1791 painting as a sort of 18th-century selfie, which helps explain Ducreux’s emergence as an internet superstar. The painter, who died in 1802, has two Twitter accounts and in 2013 won Reddit’s Tournament of Memes. “It hits that chord as a selfie in a way that others don’t,” Earle says. “This one somehow speaks to people.”
The retaining-wall mural behind the big apartment house on the northeast corner of 12th and Louisiana Streets, for years a popular visual respite for hill hikers ascending from downtown, is finally getting fresh paint and a new look.
Artist Ross Potter, who lives in the neighboring apartment house and is paying his rent by painting for the landlord, on Wednesday spray-painted the wall in a fresh base of sky blue, over which he added a fanciful Jayhawk and an emerging array of sunflowers.
“I’ve been painting flowers,” says Potter, a Hutchinson native who hopes to study art at KU in the fall, “all over Kansas.”
According to his sketched plans, the flowers will gently nudge passersby with a tender touch of wisdom:
“Don’t worry about all the answers, all at once.”
Open-practice shootarounds are usually mundane, forgettable affairs, with players practicing three-point shots, testing a few free throws and moving through light drills without breaking a sweat. Thursday afternoon, the top-seeded Jayhawks closed out their half-hour session in downtown Tulsa’s BOK Center with a thrilling sequence that brought raucous cheers from a blue-clad crowd of about 1,000 fans.
As the “practice” neared its conclusion, senior Frank Mason III, a leading candidate for national player of the year, planted himself in the corner of the court directly in front of the men’s basketball band and began drilling a succession of swishes from beyond the arc.
As his streak gained momentum, the festive musicians began shouting out a running count of swished three-pointers. When Mason missed on No. 16, a broad smile flashed across his usually stoic face and cheers turned to a quick roar.
The Jayhawks (28-4) closed out the practice with half-court shots, and, unusually, none were even close—until sophomore guard Lagerald Vick nailed a nothing-but-net swish that looked as effortless as a mid-ranger jumper.
That’s when coach Bill Self called for the team to huddle at midcourt. Once assembled in a tight pack, the players began chanting something unintelligible from a half-court away. The meaning of their words became clear as injured freshman center Udoka Azubuike grinned, shook his head, grinned again, and finally grabbed a ball handed to him by a teammate and thundered toward the goal.
Guarding his injured left wrist, Azubuike slammed home a thunderous right-handed dunk, which was quickly followed by Mason bouncing a ball off the backboard and grabbing it for a one-handed slam of his own.
As freshman sensation Josh Jackson began to follow suit, a look of panic shot across Self’s face and the veteran coach, a Naismith Coach of the Year finalist, shouted “Josh, don’t! Josh, don’t!” Jackson grudgingly obeyed orders and trotted toward the stands to join his teammates in an impromptu autograph session for eager fans.
The practice was so spirited that it might have served a purpose far beyond the typical bit of public relations splash: The Jayhawks seemingly generated a jump-start on rebuilding the momentum they lost after losing their first game of the Big 12 Tournament one week ago.
“I think it’s real important for all of us to get going,” junior guard Devonte’ Graham said of KU’s NCAA Tournament opener, 5:50 p.m. Friday against UC Davis. “We all gotta come out and be aggressive, especially on the defensive end, to get the jitters out and stuff like that. Everybody just needs to be aggressive.”
Fans are invited to a pregame event at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17, at the Cox Business Center. The event, hosted by the KU Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund, will include a pep rally at 3:30 featuring the spirit squad and the basketball band. More information is available at the alumni association’s postseason site.
Check out photos from today’s open practice in the slideshow below, or click here to see the pictures on Flickr. All photos by Steve Puppe.
In the wake of a ceaseless stream of headlines and social-media chatter about international espionage, Georgetown University Press’ recent publication of Spy Sites of Washington, DC, the latest installment in a series of espionage history books written by retired CIA officer Robert Wallace, g’68, and historian H. Keith Melton, could not have come at a more opportune time.
Thanks to public fascination with the topic, the Washington Post recently promoted the book to its politically minded readership with an attractive, graphics-laden package featuring many of the sites Wallace and Melton featured in their book.
“I was surprised. I had no idea it would catch the attention of somebody there,” Wallace says from his Virginia home. “I think it was one of the cases where you just kind of catch a news cycle.”
Wallace, a former CIA station chief who ended his long career at the agency as director of its Office of Technical Service, began his writing career, and partnership with Melton, with the authoritative and fascinating Spycraft [Kansas Alumni magazine, issue 2, 2008], which brought to light countless previously untold chapters in the thrilling history of the CIA’s spytechs, with their ingenious devices and courageous exploits.
Wallace and Melton continued with, among others, The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception and Spy Sites of New York City. As with the New York book, Spy Sites of Washington, DC is designed with a dual purpose in mind. It can be enjoyed at the reader’s leisure at home or, with its extensive maps and photographs, dropped into a backpack to serve as a guidebook to explore sites where notable espionage once took place.
A favored tour for Wallace is a stretch he’s dubbed the “Spy Mile,” featuring 25 spy sites that stretch from the Mayflower Hotel, down 16th Street to the White House, then east to the International Spy Museum on F Street.
“Having the information in front of you and then being at the site is the difference between watching the Jayhawks play in Allen Field House and watching them on a television in some bar,” he says. “You get the same information both ways, but you experience it totally differently.”
Wallace says he was surprised to learn during his research for this book—which he describes as “much more substantial” than Spy Sites of New York City—about ceaseless foreign involvement in American affairs across the entire span of our country’s history.
“Not only in terms of foreign countries attempting to, quote, steal American secrets, the information side, but also the influence side,” he says. “Foreign governments, through their intelligence organs, have consistently, regularly, always attempted to influence American politicians, influence American policy, influence the American public, and, by extension, either directly or indirectly, the American vote.
“I was surprised by that. I didn’t have a previous awareness of how consistently that played out over the years.”
Given that those are exactly the charges currently being bandied about in the early days of the current presidential administration, Wallace suggests using caution to draw exact parallels: “The dynamics of any particular age are of that age,” he says.
Instead, Wallace says, Americans should use that history to learn more about how such foreign efforts were dealt with in earlier times.
“What history teaches you is that maybe you shouldn’t be so surprised and shocked when things happen, because there’s probably historical precedence. But, maybe you can draw some lessons learned in terms of how similar situations were effectively, or not so effectively, dealt with.”
After launching the Lawrence Police Department’s Twitter page Dec. 31, 2015, with the usual dry reminders for revelers to designate sober drivers, Officer Drew Fennelly yearned to “find the voice for the Twitter account.”
His creativity burst forth three months later, as Fennelly, ’09, hunched over his laptop, bemoaning the men’s basketball team’s shattering loss in the NCAA Tournament. “Sorry, we can’t investigate Villanova ripping your heart out of your chest,” Fennelly wrote. “The crime occurred outside our jurisdiction. #RCJH”
Sorry, we can't investigate Villanova ripping your heart out of your chest, the crime occurred outside our jurisdiction. #RCJH
The post was noticed by the Kansas City Star’s sports editor, who shared it with his 10,000 followers, and suddenly @LawrenceKS_PD zoomed to online fame.
“I felt the same frustration and despair that everybody else did about KU losing that game,” Fennelly says. “So I was thinking, how can I express to everyone else how I feel and relate it to the police department?”
He’d found the voice he’d been searching for, and his ensuing parade of comedy gold gained an even wider audience—hello, Jimmy Kimmel—Sept. 29: “We realize politics can make emotions run high, but being mad at a presidential candidate in a debate is NOT a reason to call 911.”
REMINDER We realize politics can make emotions run high, but being mad at a presidential candidate in a debate is NOT a reason to call 911.
Fennelly says he scrutinizes every post for any possible hint of controversy or disrespect, but he otherwise lets the laughs loose almost daily, including an election-day reminder that “Electioneering is not a major at KU,” K9 officers posed for cute dog pics, Bad Luck Brian reminding citizens not to tempt thieves with unattended porch packages, and best of all, the occasional Saturday-night #LKPDTweetalong, during which he rides with a fellow officer and tweets the action from a citizen’s point of view.
“Humor really is one of the best coping mechanisms for dealing with what we see on a regular basis,” says Fennelly, an officer since 2009. “I think you would be hard-pressed to find a police officer with out a pretty good sense of humor.”
From dry to wry, all in a day’s work.
This post was originally published in the Jayhawk Walk section of Kansas Alumni magazine, issue no. 1, 2017, but it’s not the only press about the police department’s Twitter antics. Check out the links below for more.
Men’s basketball coach Bill Self on Wednesday was announced as a first-time nominee for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I certainly didn’t expect this,” Self said during preparations for Thursday’s game at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I’m proud, mainly because of the teams’ successes we’ve had in the various stops that put me in a position to be considered.”
Self, a Life Joint member of the KU Alumni Association, is 395-84 in his 14 seasons at KU, and his 82.5 KU winning percentage is the best in school history. Including his coaching stints at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois, Self is 602-189 in 24 years as a head coach. At KU, where he has taken his Jayhawks to 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Self has recorded more conference titles (12) than home losses (9).
Finalists will be announced during NBA All-Star festivities Feb. 18 in New Orleans, and the hall of fame’s Class of 2017 will be unveiled April 3 at the NCAA Tournament’s championship game in Glendale, Arizona.