Saturday, April 14, 2018

screens part I

Jhai, D.N. (2018, April 11). Delhi: One in every 5 school students a ‘problematic’ internet user. The Times of India.

The above article shows a little of what I'm dealing with; I don't think the US is that much better or worse than Delhi. It would be interesting, for comparison's sake, to compare huge cities like Delhi and New York, or LA, even to much smaller towns, like Alamogordo, where I teach, or Cloudcroft. But, numbers are probably similar in major ways. Almost 20% self-report that it's problematic; over a third admit that they use the internet to regulate their moods; they rely on it to feel better, in other words, or to calm down. Almost all have phones; almost all go online; almost all are going online almost constantly.

One thing I've noticed, as both an overloaded parent and an educator, is that parents tend to rely on the schools to balance out what they can see is an overload at home. In the schools, we can't afford to do that; school is for learning, so we try to keep the phones out of sight and get down to business (though I admit, I'm a sub, and their total addiction comes right back in, the minute anyone turns their back or allows it. I am with the school in their absolute prohibition of them, yet I give up fighting them very easily, as they are so squirrely without their phones that they're almost impossible to live with, and I just sometimes want them to zone out and leave me alone. As a parent, it's worse. You work all day, your kids have way too much energy, and if the phone will allow them to leave you alone (this goes for a movie, say, or even an online game), ok, go ahead. You didn't reckon with being faced with addiction.

Yet I'll agree with the above article. Addiction is what we're looking at. It's overwhelming, and it's pervasive.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

april rocks kindle promotion

details on my facebook author's page

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Public School Crisis

I got the chance to sub in an art class today, and it reminded me of my own youth; how, when an art teacher allowed kids to play music, they played horrible music (our version of metal), as loudly as they could; about how he wouldn't allow talking in class, but I thought that was ridiculous, and needed to talk to keep my mind off the music; how he made me write a 500-word essay on why I shouldn't talk in art class; and how I wrote it all in one sentence, as mad as I was. I'm sure he noticed and graded me accordingly, and, in fact, I wasn't all that great an artist, but, I never took another art class; my career in art was effectively over, my junior year in high school.

Nowadays we're wondering if any high school students will walk out in protest of the fact that we actually aren't safe in these schools anymore. I work in three different ones in a small town in New Mexico, two middle schools and the high school, and I can assure you, we aren't safe anymore. Arming the teachers is not the solution. Paying them just a little bit more to carry guns is an even worse solution. I wouldn't even call them solutions.

So I'm subbing in this art class, and I told them to draw the space station uplink, which was an event that we had in our town yesterday, where students went to the high school, packed into the gym, got to talk by wireless to this astronaut, and basically learned a little about what it was like in space. I encouraged them to draw space, or the space station, or the guy, or whatever they wanted, or, I gave them the option of drawing a physical drawing of the middle school itself. Instead some drew tigers, which is the mascot. I said, why not put the tigers in space? I tried to encourage them to think creatively. Some, on the wild side, were more interested in being Jackson Pollock, and throwing the brush at the picture in order to splatter it with stars. They had the excuse to go a little over the edge, and I was, after all, a sub.

So I got through that experience ok, and went immediately out to the streets of this neighborhood, where I had duty as a crossing guard. This is an interesting experience because you suddenly relate to the whole neighborhood in a quite practical way, although everyone is on our side, and nobody is really trying to run the kids over. We're talking 11-13 year olds, though, and anything can happen.

This is actually a very nice neighborhood, not nice in the sense of rich, but nice in the sense that it has a lot of New-Mexico-type character, and these huge dramatic mountains look down upon the entire scene; it's very pretty. At one point a truck stopped to pick up a kid, and he had an enormous dog, which jumped out of the truck and kind of terrorized some middle-school girl. The owner came running after the dog, sure enough, but it was a little uncomfortable.

As a sub I get so sick of resistance, refusal to learn or do anything, bad attitude, disrespect, and just general badness, that sometimes I don't have a whole lot of sympathy. Trouble is, the victims are not the same as what I experience as the perpetrators in any given class of sub-breaking young punks. They're all just kids, and they don't really know from anything. I don't know if these particular ones really feel that they aren't safe, as I feel. I know that, further up in the high school, there are lots of malcontents. And many, if not most of them, have access to far worse weapons than just apathy, or whatever they're using on a daily basis.

Oh but here's what I was going to tell you. In my "prep" hour (an ironic term, since subs have nothing to "prep"), I do research on my ancestors, and I do this partly because I'm grieving my dad, who died recently, but I also do this because reading old puritan accounts of life in Boston in the 1600's is fascinating. I had this one, whom I'm named after, who actually wrote the document starting the first public school in the US. This would be Boston Latin School, and I can't say it was his idea; he was merely the notetaker, but nevertheless, he was right there when it all started. And I can't prove absolutely that I'm related to him; that's a story of infinite intrigue involving slippery characters in late-1600's Boston, who kept mistaking Mary for Sarah, and couldn't spell Phoebe, not to mention Leverett. Leverett itself is often spelled Leverit, Leveret, Leveritt or even Leuerett; thus making googling kind of infinite as well as intense. But there's a remarkable explosion of things on the internet these days which means basically that I can find a lot of stuff without even moving from my chair. And that's what I do with my art class "prep" hour.

Back to my point: the public schools are worth saving. My sub experience, I can take it or leave it, but public schools are the main thing we have. Some folks are out there, ready to trash the whole thing, but I'm not. I still kind of like the place. I tell them to turn off the music, but talking's ok. They can talk all they want.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

thoughts & prayers

Enough with the thoughts and prayers, already. What's the world come to, that "thoughts and prayers" just make everyone angry?

I work at various high schools and middle schools in a small town in New Mexico. Traditionally, guns have always been everywhere, but people knew how to use them, and the kids in the picture weren't really at risk for this kind of thing. Nowadays, I don't feel safe. I feel like every school is a target, and every kid has access to as many guns as they want, and lots of them are mentally unstable. We could not put armed guards or metal detectors at every door. Even the kids, who generally spend as much time on their phones as they can, are a little nervous about this; it could happen to them too.

The question really is whether your right to have a gun includes the right to bring an arsenal or an assault weapon into any elementary school or venue. To me it doesn't. You can't bring a bomb either. If you are carrying something around to "protect yourself" why does it have to be something that kills so many people?

There is an undercurrent of arming for race war in this country. Trump and the shrill arm-yourself lobby have ensured that most folks are armed to the teeth, and they are hostile and suspicious of each other. For the mentally unstable, it's a minefield, and they, too, are armed to the teeth. Schools are as likely as any place. If you're angry at the world, it might have started in the school.

But the problem is, most of us had to go to school. The private "option" is only available to the people who can spare time off work, or who have the time to figure out what they're doing. Most of us still rely on the public schools and resent Trump's undercutting of the system and taking money away from people who need it most. But if we put armed guards and metal detectors at every door, that will really undercut the system. Nothing like a five-billion-dollar security project to ensure that we fight over who gets fed, who gets educated, and who gets health care for decades to come.

And all because we're unwilling to keep track of assault weapons? Or arsenals? We want to prevent our police from knowing who's got one, or who's taking it into the elementary school? I think the gun control lobby has eased up on the right to have a gun in one's home. I'm wondering how that translates into the right to bring an arsenal into any school.

OK I get it. Somebody's making big money from every shooting. More guns are sold, more members of the NRA, more dollars floating around. It's actually in people's interest that random violence makes everyone afraid. Somebody's very rich, and very happy, and not especially upset about random deaths.

In this case, making the good guys win means making it safe to go to school.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Old Beatniks, as archived

Archiving of Old Beatnik

I didn't quite know what to make of this when my friend told me about it. The University of Iowa Main Library Gallery featured my alternative newspaer, Old Beatnik, in its summer exhibit on alternative press in Iowa City. Look down the page: three out of the ten are Old Beatnik. Not that Old Beatnik was the best of alternative press in those days; it was more likely that it just looks more alternative, or clearly more rebellious.

This is a part of my life that I had conveniently forgotten, as it was associated with other wild stuff that I'd gotten in the habit of not mentioning. But it's there for everyone to see, and now I'm processing it. I thought I'd put my reaction to it on here, as well as everything else I know about it.

It's fair to say I was fascinated by alternative press at the time, determined to make my own, and more or less totally unequipped to do it successfully. I have no idea where I typed or drew anything, or how I printed and distributed. For part of this time I didn't really have a home, much less a copy machine or stapler. The Old Beatnik consisted of about five editions. For one, the one with the best art, if I recall correctly, people at the Co-op objected to something I said, and I ended up destroying all the editions in order to keep good relations with them. The details of this incident are hazy to me, but that's what I remember. As a result, some editions of the five are totally lost. There is only one or two that I saved (but I saved several of that edition) - and it is a different one from the one that the Museum Gallery managed to snag. So, altogether, we're talking four or five editions of a four-page (two, front-and-back) rag that had a very short lifespan. If we were to combine mine and theirs we would have a slightly bigger collection.

On the assumption that the university gallery will change its focus on Aug. 25, I'll recopy what they have saved here, so that I have access to it.
Cover of Oct. 1, 1975
Back page, same edition
page two, same edition

Nothing special. I hope they leave it there, as now, after moving to tens of places, I have lost many things, and I'm making a sincere effort not to lose any more. I may work with these folks, if I could possibly stay in touch, and send them what I still have. It's safer in their hands than in mine. But the Southern Illinois Museum has recently closed, so I'm not sure if anything is truly safe in the modern world. I do know that I've been kind of stuck in 70's documentation (reading a fascinating book about the back-to-the-land movement, We are as Gods), so, for me, now's the time.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mannequin Challenge

& 20 short stories you can't put down

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

story of Estevan

OK so there's this guy, Estevan, a black Moroccan, slave of a guy named de Carronca, and by chance, he's on this boat, which represented an attempt by Pamfico de Narvaez to settle Florida from Mexico, in 1528. And they get shipwrecked, and only four of them survive, landing around the Gulf coast somewhere but making their way, eventually, to what is today Galveston, Texas. The four that survive are Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Andres Dorantes de Corranca, Alonzo de Castillo y Maldonado, and Estevan, a slave of de Carronca. So he's lucky to survive this terrible shipwreck, but unlucky in the sense that his owner survived as well, so he was still a slave. He has a name which will appear later as he, Estevan, eventually becomes the first black man in New Mexico.

These four start out from Galveston, and have a pretty hard time. Their goal is to get back to Spanish civilization, which in 1528 would be the center of Mexico, or, if you go straight west, somewhere in Chihuahua. There was not much in what is now Matamoros, Laredo, Big Bend, etc. Well, there were people, but they didn't especially like these four, or were inclined to help them. At some point however they picked up a story, the story of the Seven Cities of Cibola. Some textbooks have them picking up this story after they arrive in Chihuahua, or even after they first visit New Mexico (now you're talking only Estevan; the other three were not involved in the trip up to the Pueblos). But at some point they heard this story, and it apparently was well known.

Six of the Seven Cities of the Cibola (the buffalo, according to Sando, but "gold" according to other textbooks) were Halona, Matsaki, Kiakima, Kuakina, Kechipawa, and Hawikuh. These names are related by Joe Sando, too, I believe, in Nuevo Mexico, an anthology. There was a seventh city, Kwilelekia, he said, which wasn't found at that time, but has been found since then; it was near present-day Silver City, NM. Of these seven, one, Hawikuh, is known in the present day as the Zuni Pueblo. This is the one Estevan eventually walked into.

Ah but it took them years. These four set out west, from Galveston, and nearly starved several times. They were taken prisoner, escaped or were freed, and then taken prisoner again. It took them eight years, and finally they arrived in San Miguel de Culiacan, in western Mexico, so the story goes, in 1536. Here, the story goes, they were starved and delusional, bad shape, but they told the story of the Seven Cities to an eager audience of Spanish royalty and explorers. Upon hearing of Seven Cities of the Cibola, the Spanish who were generally inclined to "explore" got greedy; their mouths watered, their greed overflowed, and they decided to send an expedition up north to see what they could plunder.

Now keep in mind that this happens at a time where Spanish plunderers had already done in the Aztecs, but, based on what they'd found, they hadn't had reason, before, to think there was much up in the New Mexico country. What few expeditions there had been, were not very successful, or hadn't come back. And, of the four ragged shipwreck survivors, three weren't interested in pursuing the matter, though Cabeza de Vaca's name sticks in my head, perhaps for other reasons. In any case, when they set out to explore the north, from San Miguel de Culiacan, they picked Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan friar, and another friar, and some native guides, and then they got Estevan to go along. Estevan from Azamore (Azzamour), they called him, and he was described as fanciful. They had purchased him from de Carronca. They set out for Hawikuh in 1539.

Estevan was fond of women and turquoise, and had a gourd with feathers, and began to get along well with people along the way, who kept providing him more of what he needed, and making him feel that he was indeed a great leader, come up north to communicate or for whatever reason. One friar got sick, and Marcos de Niza sent him back; then he, Marcos, became weary of Estevan's style, and had trouble staying with him. When Easter Week came they stopped in Vacapa and he chose to send Estevan ahead by himself. He told him the following:

If you find nothing, send back a cross the size of a hand. If you find something good, send back a cross twice the size of a hand. And if you find something great, like a country, with tons of gold, send back a cross the size of a man.

Four days later, a messenger appeared with a cross the size of a man. Marcos de Niza felt that Estevan had stumbled upon something.

Estevan made it up to Hawikuh (Zuni pueblo) but they killed him. According to Joe Sando, he'd offended them when he'd sent his calabash ahead of him; he claimed that he was the advance of a large party, and they should just deliver unto him, women, and turquoise, and whatever they had. The Zunis apparently felt that if he was the advance of a large party, it was just as well they should kill him, so he doesn't tell them where they were. In any case, the Zuni were known to say, "The first white man we ever saw was a black man." He's still portrayed, even today, at feast day in Jemez Pueblo, where a black man and white man are portrayed together.

Marcos de Niza made it a little later; he put crosses on the hillsides, declared the area as part of Spain, and went back to tell everyone about the Zuni Pueblo and whatever else he had found. He was later to say, I think, that there were indeed seven cities, and one, the one he had been to, was very good with the metalsmithing and thus worthy of plunder. People blame de Niza for spreading stories of gold and silver that eventually brought more Spanish up to New Mexico, looking for gold and silver. The origin of the story of the Seven Cities is unclear. Some NM History textbooks place it here: de Niza made it up, and went back and told everyone. Others say no, it was something the four shipwreck survivors heard, way down on the Gulf Coast or soon after. This also is something I'd like to look into.

sources on ancient Americas

These three were found in the chapter listed in the previous post. One would expect Mr. Sando, having made the claim about his work with the Caribbean languages, to at least provide someplace for us to start. These are the three he listed at the end of his chapter; I'm not sure what they contain.

Marder, William (2005). Indians in the Americas: The untold story. San Diego, CA: The Book Tree.

Sando and Agoyo (2005). Popay: Leader of the first American revolution. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.

Graham, John A. (1981). Ancient Mesoamerica: Selected Readings. MacNeish, Richard (1981). Ancient Mesoamerican civilization. Second edition. Palo Alto, CA: A Peek Publication.

Now I should point out that what you see above, in the third one, is somewhat unclear. Is that two different publications? If so, the first is quite incomplete. Is it possible that there is one inside of the other, given that they are the same year?

I haven't found out yet, still looking. More later.

Keres part II

So I'm a substitute teacher, and I get placed in a New Mexico History class, which is my favorite, because, as a history major, and Social Studies/History teacher wannabe, NM History is my weakness, so I have to bone up on the facts. So I start reading the textbooks that are given to the students, that, in this case, were actually under their desks. This particular one was an Anthology of readings by New Mexicans, including Joe Sando, and was the following:

Sando, J. The Pueblo People. In Nuevo Mexico: An anthology of history. 2009. New Mexico Highlands University: Semos Unlimited.

On p. 28 I found the following:

The second Pueblo Indian group to arrive were the Keresan Speakers. A similar language, which I believe was spoken in the Caribbean, caused me to decide that the Keresans migrated from the Caribbean islands. Columbus, we learned, arrived in the Caribbean on the island of Haiti; Hai-ti means "wherein" in Keres, and the leader whom Columbus met with was named Ha-ta-wehi, which means "corn pollen" in Keres. It is a man's name in Keresan. Columbus conferred the title of "Cacique" to Ha-ta-wehi, so most Pueblo titular leaders have that title today.

Today, when Keresans begin a story, they say Hama ha,i (hane) meaning "when we were in the east." Some of these words are for direction: east, west, south and north as hane, pune, coowa, and tipani. On one island, the residents near the islands were called Tiponicos (Northerners), Haynecas (Easterners), and Coowacon (Southerners).

During their migration westward the Keresans stopped in Florida. There the leader's home was covered with seashells,so they called it the white house. Eventually the Keresans arrived at Chaco Canyon, and lived there until the great drought also drove them to where the descendants are today. They brought the corn dance and the medicine society to the Pueblo Indian country.

Actually, I have to admit that I read that several times before I had the impulse to just copy it and put it here. It is possible that I mis-transcribed Ha-ta-wehi, as one version, in my notes, has no -i at the end, whereas the other does. But I also noticed that the writing is not meticulously proofread, as there is an "also" in the third paragraph that doesn't seem to have any reference; it's not questioned, and these things sometimes happen in writing; who knows what he's referring to?

So, hot on the trail of this line of information, I did some more research. I was looking for independent verification that this Joe Sando linked the Keresan to the Caribbean, and I was looking for someone to say that either he was a respected historian, or he was a kook. Nothing. I couldn't find anyone that even mentioned his 2009 claim, and I haven't yet found the work he says it is based on (doesn't mean it's not out there). Joe Sando was a respected historian, from the Jemez Pueblo (near the Keresan ones, which include Acoma, and Laguna, Pueblos). He died a few years back. He was well known for sharing a lot of what he knew about the Pueblos, but not sharing their religion, which he figured was their own business.

There were three people who did work on the Keresan grammar, trying to interpret it, and make it available to the outside world. One, Joel Maring, is a father of a friend of mine in southern Illinois, and found that they actually had a different language for women and men, in the sense of at least having different words for a number of things; I was unable to get much more detail than that. But this rang a bell, because I remember that being true of the Arawak language, that was spoken in the Caribbean when Columbus arrived. What makes this important is that, if we're talking a migration of peoples here, they must have had enough men and women to have made migration of the language possible. We're not talking three lonely guys in a boat here. We're talking migration of a people, and it's in about 1200 or 1300. I'd really like to get to the bottom of this.

Then, a couple more twisters if I may, but these are not carefully documented yet. I will try to document.

There were three people, as I said, who did work on the Keresan grammar, and they are easily found in the Wikipedia references. They are Davis, Miller, and Maring. Maring's work was at one point called "unfortunate," for reasons I don't know. The Keresan people also requested that no more work be done on their language, by anyone, ever. That I found a little unusual. What happened? I am not purposely trying to connect these two events, which could be totally unrelated. At some point they decided that people looking into their language weren't helping them. Perhaps they decided they wanted no part of being traced to the Caribbean? Will they be mad at me if I even dig into it? I would be taking isolated words, like the ones you see above, and tracing them to Arawak, perhaps using notes from my graduate school, where I'd found an ancient book, written in French, that had described the Arawak language. My research, in that case, led me to use historical linguistic principles to relate Arawak to other languages, some deep in the Amazon, and perhaps Garifuna, which is supposedly related.

I promise to dig some of this stuff up and put it here as well. It seems to me, no work on languages is "unfortunate," though it's unfortunate if you get malaria in the process of gathering data. It also seems to me that if you have corn traditions, you wouldn't have started them in the Caribbean, nor would you have picked them up in the Big Bend on your way through what is today south Texas. They are finding stuff in Chaco Canyon, even today; it's obvious people had lively lifestyles, and wrote about them, back in 1200-1300. I am working toward a claim that 1) they knew what they were doing, 2) they didn't head up the Rio Grande not knowing what they'd find; 3) they had a lot of people, yet still had enough food for the long journey, assuming the Rio Grande had water back then; 4) there was some system of continent-wide communication, perhaps petroglyphs, that guided people in these epic journeys. When the mound people left their capital, present-day Cahokia, in 1200, they had already gone thousands of miles on rivers, up to Idaho, Canada, the Appalachians, the Gulf. We don't know why they would leave Cahokia, but we can suspect that they were aware of the Caribbean, and, they would be likely suspects for a "corn dance." But if you put yourself back in that era, and you run into a world traveler, presumably you don't share the same language, but are you going to give up? Or are you going to find the cool places there are, in the world, like Kathmandu, or Macchu-Piccu, and one or two among you are going to at least try? I think they were like us, except that 1) they didn't have Google Maps; 2) they knew the stars real well, and 3) they did everything by river boat, and did it pretty well. That's all I can ascertain based on what I've read of Cahokia and Chaco Canyon, but I'd like to know more. And I'm not claiming that the mound people and the Caribbean-based Pueblos were the same people. What do I know? I just suspect that, at some point, they at least had contact. North America is only so big, and in these small places, people tend to know everything.