Tuesday, February 19

This Chick Can Fly

Another world Record falls in Missouri, this time by Cal alum Natalie Coughlin who clocks a 59.21 in the 100-meter backstroke yesterday (photo of Coughlin from mariasphoto.com). She breaks her prior time by .23 seconds and remarkably is .4 seconds off-pace at the 50-meter mark in the race (this is about a half-body length). In 2007 she became the first woman under one minute in the event. Natalie is from Concord, California, which is not too far from Berkeley beyond Oakland's Caldecott Tunnel and next door to Walnut Creek where I trained with the weirdly named Aqua Bears. She's 15 years younger so I've not seen her swim but I do keep track of her progress - several years ago she was profiled in the New Yorker magazine, for instance. Also on Sunday, Katie Hoff set her second American record in as many days as she took the women's 200 meters freestyle in one minute 56.08 seconds to defeat Coughlin for the second time in two days. The women's team appears ready for Beijing

England has focused its attention on the wild cat - apparently the creature's population dwindles and is seldom seen these days. In response and with earnest concern, an all-hands request has gone across Britain to report wild cat sightings. The wild cat was once prevalent in Britain - as ubiquitous as the red fox or wily stout - but today its populations is estimated to be 16,000. What is unusual about the wild cat is that, unusually, it looks just like a house cat. Same size. Same coloring. No wild temper nor sharp fangs like a U.S. bob-cat. So I must wonder: does this really merit a slot on the BBC's prime-time news or front page of many Fleet Street newspapers? To a countryside rambler, it is a
cause célèbre and a contrast to the US's Paris Hilton or Britney Spears.