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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Sig Ep's 'Balanced Man' triathlon growing steadily

By Alice Bailey

April 29, 2009 - LOGAN | Spring has finally arrived, and the sun shines brightly as Doug Peterson rides his bike past the HPER building on Utah State campus. He is training for the Balanced Man Triathlon.

"I saw my brother do one and it looked like fun so I thought I'd start training for one." Peterson said. "I was just looking for a triathlon to do this summer and I saw it online. Obviously it's in Logan so I decided to do this one first."

When Peterson came home from his mission in November, he said he weighed 230 pounds, now with the training he has done for this triathlon, he weighs only 195 pounds.

"I've been swimming about two or three times a week." Peterson said. "I've biked a couple times. Not a lot because biking is easier. I play basketball four or five times a week every night. Just staying active I guess."

Peterson is training with Jessica Winward, who says she has never done anything like this before, but has always wanted to. Though she considers this a great opportunity, she is still a little bit nervous.

"I was on the swim team in high school," Winward said, "so I have swimming down pretty well, but other than that, I've never been a biker or a runner. I think I'll do all right. I just want to be able to say that I finished. That's my goal."

As of last week 110 people had signed up for the event, Chris Barron, director of the triathlon, said. With the goal that had been set in November of 150, Barron thinks the participation will come close to what he was hoping for.

This is the fourth year Sigma Phi Epson has sponsored this triathlon-sprint, and the number of participants has steadily risen each year. Barron said 90 people signed up to compete last year, and they have already passed that number up.

All proceeds from the event go to Youth AIDS, an organization devoted to helping children born with AIDS, as well as educating the world about AIDS and AIDS prevention. Four years ago, one of the brothers in the fraternity thought of the idea to sponsor the triathlon to support Youth AIDS and it went from there. The route and distances of the triathlon have changes over time, but so has the number of participants and where they come from.

"We've actually seen, I would say, at least a third if not half of our racers from outside the valley. So, we're not going to have as many locals." Barron said.

He attributes this to the breadth of the advertising campaign he and others have put together. Posters on the triathlon were posted everywhere from Rexburg to Provo, and other advertising was done on Facebook. Barron said the total cost of advertisement for the event was around $150.

"I talked to Bob Henke who is the race director for the Top of Utah Marathon." Barron said. "He's a good friend and I went to him for a lot of advice, and he said the best thing to do for advertising is run a really solid, well organized race, with good volunteers. One that starts on time, and has good food and prizes for the participants. That's the best thing we can do for next year.

"So I built a lot of my game plan and strategy for this race upon that, knowing that if this year's really well organized, well-run, the racers are benefited, and the course is good, and if it's a true 5K, and a true 20K, and the pool goes smoothly, then people will tell their friends and they'll come back and bring two friends."

Because of all the work Barron and others have put into the organization of the race this year, he thinks things will go a lot more smoothly next year.

Sponsorship by local businesses has gone up a lot this year as well, with all the prizes being donated by companies around the valley. Prizes include things such as massages, movie tickets, duffle bags, clothing, and gift certificates.

Though Barron calls the experience 'awesome' and plans on helping next year, he thinks his wife will be happy when it is all over.

Peterson isn't so worried about the organization behind it all, he just wants to beat his brother's time.


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