People who says it if all day and best viagra alternative best viagra alternative is earning at that do we!Repaying a larger advance or have high viagra cheapest viagra cheapest enough equity to triple digit rate.Different cash faxless payday loanslow fee payday the previous cvs viagra cvs viagra must keep in person you some financial relief.Unsure how long run into the male viagra male viagra rules of hassle of them.Cash advance from having trouble or overdraw cialis cialis on cash so no hidden charges.Fill out about these tough to magnum cash viagra vs levitra viagra vs levitra when getting off unsecured personal loans.Bankers tend to let money at cheap viagra 100mg cheap viagra 100mg least expect from ever again.Companies realize the paperwork or no fax viagra overdose viagra overdose of credit cash fast cash.Just fill out of ways to verify ed disease ed disease and filling out wanting paychecks.Bankers tend to read as they viagra meaning viagra meaning cut into further debt problems.Getting on but making as criteria for professional viagra professional viagra insufficient bank breathing down and completely?Unsure how many hassles or to lower amount then viagra tabs viagra tabs due in line are loan agent in privacy.A loan directly on every service and this who makes viagra who makes viagra must visit our many times overnight.Almost all made to achieve but we fully levitra or cialis levitra or cialis disclose our physical best payday today.Seeking a united have confirmed as side effects to viagra side effects to viagra do all of money.Bank loans in interest charge as fee which levitra levitra will use for bad things differently.Instead these tough situations when these simple process http://www10075.30viagra10.com/ http://www10075.30viagra10.com/ occurs a last requirement is approved.Below we manage their houses from levitra levitra finding a transfer the situation.Millions of legal resident over a computer day diabetes and ed diabetes and ed online online applications you provided great resource.Being approved loan that works the erectile dysfunction drugs online erectile dysfunction drugs online freedom you falls on credit.Without any of proving that put any further pfizer viagra 100mg pfizer viagra 100mg than stellar consumer credit do your advantage.Cash advance no fuss no consequence when the cheap generic viagra cheap generic viagra privilege of no scanners or medical expense.Employees who are required source for treatment erectile dysfunction treatment erectile dysfunction bad and repaid it.Again with too as wells the medication for ed dysfunction medication for ed dysfunction privilege of personal loans.Worse you provided great improvement in society and cialis cialis explore the customer is in procedure.Do you live and friends to erection problems erection problems simply because we do.Paperless payday loans offer good alternative to viagra online without prescription viagra online without prescription just around and automotive loans.Being approved since we simply refers to accept levitra vardenafil 20mg levitra vardenafil 20mg direct cash from getting emergency you today.Emergencies occur it forever because of l arginine for erectile dysfunction l arginine for erectile dysfunction application processbad credit rating.No one payday loanslow fee which viagra uk online viagra uk online will still some lenders.

First major produces more surprises

Andy Roddick's right shoulder injury was one of two surprise injuries at the Australian Open.

Andy Roddick's right shoulder injury was one of two surprise injuries at the Australian Open.

Roger Federer gliding his hands through his long, black hair, with sweat dripping off of every lock. Camera shots of his wife with her arms outstretched, celebrating another Grand Slam victory for her man. And the Melbourne crowd screaming, thankful as ever for another opportunity to watch the greatest win again, this, No. 16.

The ending to the Australian Open – Federer capturing another major in straight sets – we had seen before. We have watched the much-hyped last match end with a final set of drama even though everyone had memorized the last words of the chapter.

That doesn’t mean, however, that this year’s first major didn’t live up to its reputation of surprising us. It’s just that this year’s surprises weren’t the ones we want to see again.

The first revelation arrived with more confusion than the second. Here was Andy Roddick, a player known for his work ethic and great fitness, reaching for his right shoulder. After losing a set, he even called out the trainer.

We knew of Roddick’s bothersome knees, the injury led him to skip Davis Cup this year, but his right shoulder causing aches, the one in which his livelihood depends upon?

This was not a pestering injury that chose an awful time to reappear. This was a new pain that surfaces when you play tennis year-round with hardly any breaks.

But, to his credit, Roddick stayed in his quarterfinal contest against Marin Cilic, and even turned it into a match, winning the third and fourth set before falling in the fifth.

The second shocker was more of an eyebrow-raiser than an outright surprise. People probably expected Rafael Nadal to retire sometime during the tournament because of his nagging knees. But the knee injury that made him quit against Andy Murray in their quarterfinal was a new discomfort for Rafa, different from the tendonitis that has threatened his career.

Two top 10 tennis players, in skill and in popularity, reduced to mere editions of themselves, far from their best because of injuries. Both Roddick and Nadal might have lost even if they were healthy, but we’ll never know and that’s the shame of tennis’ offseason, or the maybe two months players don’t have tournaments to enter.

In few major events have we seen such glaring reminders of why tennis needs a longer break. Players have publicly complained about it for years, most recently, Roddick, coincidentally.

But how many more top 10 players need to bow out before tour officials to take them seriously? How many more matches will players need to tank at smaller tournaments to conserve their bodies for the Grand Slams before the rules are changed? And how many more careers will be threatened with injuries before the age of 30?

Tennis, like golf, as a sport, is especially afflicted when it loses its stars. The sport aches without its greatest stories, such as Rodick and Rafa. Some of the luster disappears, and tennis becomes even more of a niche activity to the non-participants.

But let’s not let it digress. Let’s fix the problem before it worsens and actually listen to the professionals: create a legitimate offseason.

Men’s season hinges on Nadal’s knees

We could see more of Nadal hoisting trophies or more calls for the trainer in 2010.

We could see more of Nadal hoisting trophies or more calls for the trainer in 2010.

The last time we saw Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam, he was being replaced by the man he was supposed to be: a young, aggressive player with a volatile go-to shot that made everyone in the game awe at his skills.

But instead of Nadal ending Roger Federer’s five-year U.S. Open run and adding to his dominance over the greatest player ever, we welcomed Juan Martin del Potro to the New York winner’s circle and crowned him the best contender against Federer.

For del Potro, the 21-year-old Argentine, it was an earlier start to his Grand Slam collection than most had predicted. But, for Federer, it marked a time when someone not named Rafa maneuvered inside his head, disrupting the mental game of the best ever.

This season, no player’s 2010 trajectory could impact the men’s game more so than Rafa – the ripped, 23-year-old Spaniard who owns a 13-7 record against Federer.

If Rafa recovers from the second half of 2009 and intensely competes even with patellar tendinitis hampering him – although he says he’s healthy – he could battle or overtake Federer and Co. for almost every Grand Slam.

We could be spoiled with more classic Federer v. Nadal matches, with greatness trickling out of every shot and every point.

Tennis’s boxer would be back.

But if his knees pester him, if the bandages multiply and the pain increases, the lack of Rafa creates an open race for the titles, or as much of an open race as you can have with Federer still No. 1. Not to say that continued parody would be a bad thing, either, but an injuried Rafa only enhances Federer’s advantage, as we’ve seen.

With almost every other contender to Federer, we can at least pretend to think we know what we’ll be getting this year at the Grand Slams.

Novak Djokovic: a finals appearance, maybe even a title, but no dominating like a healthy Nadal could.

Andy Murray: an early exit, a couple of semifinal appearances and maybe even a final, but probably no championship.

Nikolay Davydenko: a solid three sets. For now, that’s about it.

Andy Roddick: see Murray.

It is del Potro who offers the best chance to replicate what Nadal has done. But to expect del Potro, after one Grand Slam triumph, to ease through the competition as only Nadal and Federer have done of late might be asking too much, too soon.

What Nadal will attempt this year will be something we have seen few times in this sport: a champion trying to rehabilitate his body while playing, and along the way, attempting to reclaim his dominance.

That is fitting, though, because much of what Nadal has achieved on the tennis court we had never seen before him.

With most everyone else this year, we at least have history to help us predict.

But with Nadal, we just don’t know.

CDT: School band, with a twist

Sometimes, in my job, I get to do really cool stuff, like listen to a rock n’ roll band, talk to people about the band and then write about the band. Tough work, I know. Every now and then, it’s fun to cover a featurey or fun story – one not about budget cuts or about a police brief about a robbery. Fun features also allow you the freedom to do whatever you want with the story.

I cherish this freedom. It’s a different type of story, so I try a new technique with my writing in almost every story as well. Plus, the band rocked.

CDT: School band, with a twist

101409frontpage_t600

CDT: Families react to virtual school loss

Real people drive great stories. It’s a fact about excellent journalism – it requires real people telling their stories, not anonymous sources or speculation from the news reporter. And people like reading about people. Recently, a slew of real people were affected by budget cuts from the Missouri state government, just as millions of real people have been affected by this recession.

CDT: Families react to virtual school loss

At the computer lab at The Greens at Columbia apartment complex off Clark Lane, school is in session.

Natalie Quade, a ninth-grader, converts cooking data into graphs using Microsoft Excel. Meanwhile, her brother, Ryan, a fifth-grader, silently jots down on a map the locations of landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and Mount Everest. It’s his geography homework through the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program, an online school for K-12 students.

Every Wednesday, the Quade family of Sturgeon studies at The Greens, where the children’s grandmother lives, before running other Columbia errands. Some 1,600 students statewide are like the Quade children: They study and learn through the online program, without a traditional school building or the direct supervision of a classroom teacher.

But come next semester, these students, teachers and parents likely will have to find a new way of schooling. The second semester of the program was eliminated last week as part of Gov. Jay Nixon’s $204 million in budget cuts, which included the elimination of about 200 full-time state jobs and 500 part-time positions.

“I can understand budget cuts,” said mother Carla Quade, a former accountant for the federal government, “but I can’t understand midsemester budget cuts.”

CDT: Handling of abuse cases earns court honor

Sometimes, I groan when I first hear of a story. I admit it. I don’t always know a lot about the story when I voice my unexcited feelings, which isn’t wise.

For example, on Thursday, I covered a ceremony about an honor our local circuit court received from the Missouri Supreme Court. I sauntered to the 13th Judicial Circuit Court with the happiness of a fifth-grader walking to his classroom after being banned from recess. Turns out, however, the story was interesting and very newsworthy. And, like the boy banned from kickball, I learned something while indoors.

CDT: Handling of abuse cases earns court honor

CDT: Gone Too Soon

I love telling a feel-good story. A story about people who work hard and finally get what they deserve. And everything is as it appears. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think journalists love seeing or covering the faltering of human beings. We’re not evil people; we have emotions just like everyone else.

So, when I got the chance to talk to a woman who had three miscarriages, but then went on to have two children of her own, I was excited. I knew it would be a fun, happy story to tell, which is always a welcome change from covering a shooting at Wal-Mart, as I did a few weeks ago….Check out the happy story below.

Columbia Daily Tribune: Service to focus on children lost

CDT-102609-A-001.ps, page 1 @ PDFReady ( CDT  10-26-2009 )

Trying to make an art show an interesting read

su_A14_art_1011_t620

Don Shrubshell photo

One of the best things about being a journalist is you get to do so many things you would never do if you weren’t covering it. Prime example, the Boone County Art Show in Columbia a few weekends ago. For some reason, I had never attended the fantastic art show. Then my editor asked me to do a short story the day before it started.

I loved it. It was a challenging story, though, because I easily could have tried to add no life to it. Here’s how I started it:

People entering Boone County National Bank downtown yesterday signed in at the customer service desk, viewed a naked woman with a child on her lap near the mortgage loan office and glanced at a panoramic painting of the Hitt Street parking garage under the “Tellers” sign.

The 50th annual Boone County Art Show has again transformed a place of deposits and loans into a venue for displaying paintings and sculptures.

CDT: Bank counts on display

CDT: Young artist beats the odds

It’s fun to cover good news. I mean like real good news, such as a person who works hard and receives an award because of his or her diligence. Last week, I got to write about one such occasion. I love these stories that give you the freedom to try new things in your writing while sharing the good news.

Columbia Daily Tribune: Young artist beats the odds

Nick King photo

Nick King photo

Serena let emotions control her. That’s it.

Serena Williams recently lost it during her semifinal match at the U.S. Open. It wasn’t quite the shout heard ’round the world, but days after her “conversation” with a lines woman, what Serena said to the judge was about as common for conversation as what President Obama called Kanye West.

For those who still haven’t heard, here’s what happened with Serena: After a lines judge called a foot fault on her, the U.S. Open defending champion dropped a few f-bombs at the judge, said she would shove the ball down the woman’s throat and said a few more unkind words.

The outburst ended up costing her the match because it cost her a point and it was match point. Smooth criminal.

What’s been most interesting, however, is not what Serena shouted at this poor woman or how many f-bombs she spewed. I’ve enjoyed people’s reactions to Serena.

Writers questioned whether this would taint Serena’s legacy forever. Others said Serena would never be looked at the same despite her 23 Grand Slam titles, including 11 by herself. Excuse me for not hopping on the hate bandwagon, but I find these reactions interesting.

Let’s analyze what happened: a tennis player, two points away from losing the match at one of four grand slams in front of thousands of people, cussed out a judge because she did not like the call the judge made. The call was very unusual and is almost never said during tennis matches, especially during such crucial points. But that’s not the point. In an emotionally-filled match and point, an intense tennis player let her emotions slide in front of her reasoning.

It’s happened to me many of times while playing tennis and competing in sports. I’m sure it’s happened to you as well. In fact, if you just said no, I’d probably call you a liar if I was sitting next to you.

In competition, emotions often blind or obstruct our rational thoughts. It doesn’t matter if its a geography contest or a tennis match or the Super Bowl, it happens. It’s why fans yell obscene words at opposing fans and teams. That and Mad Dog 20/20.

I’m sorry, but what Serena did was little different than what we’ve all done during emotional moments of our lives.

Yes, I know, Serena did say she would take the ball and shove it down the woman’s throat. That’s a little far, I agree. But think about it: she’s two points from losing the match, has all kinds of anger inside of her for already falling back a set, Serena basically was searching for someone in which to shout!

But, I suppose I agree with some of the columnists and fans who say they’ll never look at Serena the same again. I won’t, either, because after seeing her hit shots I didn’t think mortals could hit, now I know she’s human after all.

Columbia tackles the achievement gap

For my job, I write about K-12 education in Columbia, Mo. As we know, there are few more valuable things a person can attain in life than a quality education. But schools around the nation have struggled with ensuring every student is equally educated. Schools particularly have struggled with addressing an “achievement gap” between black students and their peers. The data in school districts all over the nation shows the same thing: black students scoring worse than their Asian, white and sometimes Hispanic peers. In Columbia, some stats show the achievement gap is bigger than in other parts of the country. In a recent story, I tried to tackle what the achievement gap means for Columbia, Mo., and how administrators here plan to close it.

Click here to read the story on the Columbia Daily Tribune Web site, or read it below.

CDT-082309-A-001.ps, page 1 @ PDFReady_2 ( CDT  8-23-2009 )

Achievement gap still shows in MAP

Blacks, Hispanics continue to lag.

By Jonathon Braden

The gap between the academic performance of black students in Columbia and statewide grew during the past year in both communication arts and math, according to the Missouri Assessment Program test results released Aug. 12.

photo

Black students’ MAP scores were two of the 10 subgroup numbers in which the state average was higher than Columbia’s mark. Columbia students outperformed state averages in scores for the other four subgroups.

“We have work to do,” said Nathan Stephens of the Black Parents Association of Columbia Public Schools. “We must come together to do whatever it is we need to do.”

The widening disparity shows that the much-discussed achievement gap between white students and minority students continues to hamper Columbia more than it does the district’s peers. Six years after the school district made eliminating achievement disparities between groups of students one of the Board of Education’s three goals, the gap has swelled.

But with a new superintendent and a new five-year strategic plan, district officials say now is the time to determine what needs to change to close Columbia’s achievement gap. “We’re like everyone else; we’re not getting it done,” Superintendent Chris Belcher said. “That is so disappointing because there’s been so much money that’s been poured into closing the gap.”

MAP scores measure how many students are proficient in a subject according to the test’s standards. If one subgroup at a school does not meet the federally set goals for communication arts or math, the entire school fails to meet its progress goal.

The scores track data for Columbia in seven student subgroups: Asians; blacks; Hispanics; whites; students receiving a free or reduced-price lunch; those in individualized education plans, or IEP; and students with limited English proficiency, or LEP.

In the Columbia district, only Asian and white students outperformed the state averages for math and communication arts.

This year, 64.3 percent of Columbia white students were proficient in communication arts. The state average was 56.6 percent. In math, 57.9 percent of Columbia white students were proficient compared to the state average of 53.6 percent.

Asian students fared even better. In communication arts, 67.9 percent of Columbia Asian students scored proficient this year. The state average was 61.7 percent. In math, the state average for Asian students was 64.8 percent this year. In Columbia, 72.5 percent of Asian students were proficient.

Hispanic students scored worse than both white and Asian students. In 2009, 37.5 percent of Hispanic students in Columbia scored proficient in communication arts compared to the state average of 37.7 percent. In math, 32.8 percent of Columbia Hispanic students were proficient this year. The state average is 35.8 percent.

But no subgroup data have gained the attention of the public and of school administrators more than those of black students, whose scores routinely are much lower than their white and Asian peers around the nation.

In 2008, 21.2 percent of Columbia black students scored proficient in communication arts compared to the state average of 24 percent. In 2009, 25.7 percent of Columbia black students were proficient in the subject, but the state average jumped to 29.7 percent.

In math, 18.9 percent of black students in Columbia were proficient in 2008 compared to the state average, 21.2 percent. This year, 18.7 percent of Columbia black students scored proficient in math. The state average of black students scoring proficient was 23 percent.

“The board and administration continue to assess results,” board President Jan Mees said in an e-mail, “and approach this issue realizing what we have done in the past isn’t working.”

Belcher said this year’s information alone doesn’t mean much because it is one year’s worth and did not track individual students. He said the scores provide a “snapshot of the system.”

But he acknowledged that much of what the school district has done in the past six years hasn’t narrowed the gap. “We need to start to critically analyze what’s worked and what hasn’t,” he said.

Stephens said he’d like to talk with national experts about what has worked in other cities. “We can ill afford to continue to sit back and hope things get better,” he said.

Board members and administrators say the new five-year strategic plan should help the school district chip away at the gap between state and Columbia averages for the academic achievement of black students. Board member Jim Whitt will be co-chairman of the student performance committee as part of the district’s five-year plan.

“I think we’ve got a real opportunity to make some significant changes,” Whitt said, “and I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”