28 January 2010

Tribute to Zinn and Salinger

Unannounced to me until I attended a history class tonight, Howard Zinn died yesterday suddenly from a heart attack. He was 87, born in 1922.

Usually I am indifferent to death, people and pets alike. I was not always this way, but close. I grew into accepting that it’s just part of the way things go. Every now and then I am faced with the compelling sense of sorrow. Today, it has crept in (a bit ^_^).

Howard’s death is most certainly a historical loss. He, unlike many of his historian counterparts, was not intimidated by people or policy and sought the truth and to inform the public of it. A true polarizing entity, he was not revered by all as with many movers and shakers. Howard voiced support for Shministim, Israel's young conscientious objectors who waited in jail for refusing to serve the occupation. He spoke frankly about the intolerable subjugation of millions of Palestinians, and how it hurt(s) both peoples*” of Palestine and Israel. Howard was (is?) Jewish. He researched and shared the lesser-known stories on a variety of injustices in the world. He was vested with a vision for true justice and spoke out for equality of peoples everywhere. He has inspired many, and inspires me, to further endeavor down the road towards egalitarianism.

Zinn wrote in his autobiography, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it."
* Penny Rosenwasser, Jewish Voice for Peace.

As I was looking for photos of Howard I noticed the cover of The Catcher in the Rye in the mix. This made me curious about J.D. Salinger and his death or if he was still alive. Upon looking it up I discovered he died Today! Wow! Talk about a double wammy. He was 91 and died of “natural causes.”

This is a great J.D. quote, and apt. "I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetary. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

I haven’t had quite as intimate relationship with J.D.’s texts that I would have liked after the one I have read. I delved into The Catcher in the Rye (1951) late in life, last year in fact. I have a special affinity for J.D.’s invention and use of double contractions. So fun! I don’t know if that’s typical, but it was a first for me. What stood out to me about his work is the lack of pretense, the rawness, and simplicity. I was in that story, on Holden’s shoulder. I knew him. I wanted to know him better so much that the end of the book made me mad, because it was over. Look out Franny and Zooey.

The last time I felt sorrow about a death it was my grandfather who died 05-07-95, which happened to be the same day as when my little sister was born. Both occurrences happened in the same hospital. I was there, in the birthing room with my mom. Now, I cannot be anything but happy on that day, even in remembrance of its genesis, because I now have a beautiful little sister who has impacted my life in more ways than I ever knew possible. Like the phoenixes and death, sorrow moves on.

24 January 2010

Dog Owner

As of yesterday, I'm officially a dog owner for the first time in my adult life. This is a dog that I've watched monthly for the past four months. When I was asked if I wanted to take him, I could honestly say "Yes" knowing that I wasn't being rash. He's a super dog!

Name: Baker (He was named before I got him and actually has a full name, including a "Dr." and an "IV" on the end. But, Baker is what he goes by, among varied other nicknames, like Asparagus.)

Sex: Male (All parts attached until I can contact the mobile vet.)

Age: Maybe 9 months. The guess is that he was born in April 2009.

Breed: Village dog aka mutt. You can look and guess for yourself. Let me know if you're good at guessing; I'd like to read more about it.

Size: 29" long (snout to rump) x 18" tall x 20.5" chest ^_^

Here are some more old photos:

17 January 2010

Haiti Earthquake Relief + P.S.S.

Below is a list of some NFP organizations that can be donated to for relief in Haiti. They might ask you to specify where the donation is supposed to go to, like ICRC (Red Cross). If you choose another organization to donate to, make sure it's a grant and not a loan. Their economy does not need any more stress or debt.
American Red Cross - International
Doctors Without Borders
OXFAM-America Inc.

As I view the news, I recall and learn more about occurrences that have exacerbated the effects from the recent 7.0 Earthquake on the 12th effecting Port au Prince residents. Haiti was the first independent nation of color in the world, which got into the US's craw given that we still supported slavery at that time. I am leery of the Clinton-Bush donation organization. Both administrations were instrumental in keeping the oppression of Haiti. In Feb. 2004, Bush called the coup ousting the former President Amistead, when Haiti had a democratic system in place, despite it being against International Law to forbid him from going back. Clinton encouraged Haitian residents to abandon independent skills, like farming, to go to Port au Prince for factory work (aka sweat shops) for a more "stable economy." With the country being impoverished, the infrastructure is shanty and was more easily destroyed by the earthquake. People desperate for heat, logged trees on the same hills where housing is, making it susceptible to land slides. Structural integrity was sacrificed so that buildings could be erected w/ the least amount of stress on the economy at the time. Obama did decide to donate $100,000 towards relief efforts. This, of course, is wonderful. He also solicited Clinton and Bush for the donation organization. "Tit for tat." 30,000 Haitian immigrants are on a list to be deported from the USA; a Rep. in CA said that this has been temporarily put on hold. Maybe it could be abolished. This way they can continue to support people at the home island.

Pat Robertson had the gall to say that Haiti "made a deal with the devil" and that is why they have been suffering after their Revolt against the French for that independence in 1804. What a joke! Naomi Klien discovered that the Heritage Foundation announced this crisis as an "opportunity," as is often an excuse to take advantage of people in distress. This should not be an opportunity to minister to or democratize peoples of Haiti or for "corporate vultures" to move in, as Naomi stated. They need help to live, to repair the physical damage and to be able to rebuild their community while coping with bereavement.

Anyway, alternate motives aside, Haitian people are suffering and hopefully the help they need is there or getting there a.s.a.p. Communication lines have been down. Petrol is in shortage making it hard for relief workers and basic supplies to be transported, as well as roads being blocked. Clean water and sanitation systems have been down. Keep them in your thoughts, if you choose. Volunteer or donate, if you can.

I haven't meant for this to be a portal for my personal interest in relieving others' plight. Though, this is a vehicle for mass communication, so here it is. Thanks for taking the time to read. ^_^

P.S.S. (Post Solipsistic Script):
As far as my own life, I'm good. I'm reading a lot and enjoying that; I would do it in lieu of everything else if I had my choice about it. The book club is still active and we're meeting this Wed. to discuss our third book 1984 by G. Orwell. This weekend I did some household maintenance and carpentry chores, modeling after Kari Byron, of course. I've vowed to do something creative or artistic weekly. Also, I'm trying to keep my ears open for news and current affairs every day, a little bit at least. I never feel fully abreast. But, something is better then nothing. Ignorance is Not strength, maybe it's still bliss. ^_^ I have various podcasts and music that I listen to as well as purchased TV shows (Mythbusters, Mad Men, & Deadwood) and Netflix movies I watch arbitrarily. Oh, I'm still taking the history class, Egalitarianism and Evolving Democracy; that will end in April.

My knee is healing and I'm excited to do things I was not able to a couple of weeks ago. I have been able to use the stationary bike for a week b/c I now have enough bend in my knee. It's going slowly, but I'm increasing the degree of movement with that leg. I still have fluid, but it's moving out more, which helps with the bend, shown by the more prominent indentations on the sides of the patella (kneecap).

We were supposed to start school on the 13th. I had two students and many of the other classrooms had the same turn out due to the Russian Orthodox New Year Slaaviq ending the night before. This meant people were up until the wee hours of the morning and not out of bed for school. We held school Thursday. Fri. and Sat. we canceled because of frozen and broken sewer lines. This means that toilets have not been flushed in the school or teacher housing since Thursday. Ick! We have water, but can't let it drain. This means no dishes or showers can happen unless you have an alternate way to store the waste water. The maintenance guys just found another break in the line today, which they have covered and are heating. The plan in the air right now is thinking about putting honey buckets (5 gal. port-o-potty, beautifully lined w/ trash bags to be dumped into a lagoon) at the school, so that we can conduct classes and not miss more than a week of school, which we need to make up at some point. We have three to make up so far and it's looking dim for tomorrow. I'm excited for when we do start having school again, because we're beginning a Civil Rights and Feminism unit.

Weather: It's been gale since before I came back from winter break. We have hardly any snow on the ground and temps. have been in the negatives even without windchill. Windchill has been as low as in the -50s F. I stole a friend's snapshot from their blog (You know who you are by now. If you want me to give you credit, I will. Otherwise, you'll stay the preferred anonymous "friend.")

06 January 2010

Reading Feeds the Soul

-----Here's my book list for 2009. I missed some here and there, but I'll go back later to edit. Really, this is to help me keep track. If you see something that peeks your interest, just ask me about it or go check it out for yourself. I already know my 2010 list will blow this one out of the water! ^_^:

Chicken With Plumbs, M. Satrapi

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight, M. Chow
clips from the CORE book (reading pedagogy)

Epileptic, David B.
Post Office, C. Bukowski
Four Agreements, M. Ruiz
Sweet Thursday, J. Steinbeck
Slumdog Millionare, V. Swarup
Flush, C. Haaisen

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen- C. McDougall (audiobook)

Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, F. Peeters
The Eternal Sunshine, G.L. Yang & D.K. Kim
Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, Thich Nhat Hanh
Bluesman: complete edition, R. Vollmar

The Beats: A Graphic History, H. Pekar, et al.
Life of Pi, Y. Martel
Black Hole, C. Burns

Raising Ourselves, V. Wallis
Burma Chronicles, G. Delisle
The Road, C. McCarthy (audiobook)
The Quitter, H. Pekar
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, B. Willingham

+ articles/papers/websites for H523 class; dabblings in: understand your dreams-parker, random... health sci stuff, animal speak-andrews, current affairs, & various things that come up (teaching/planning info., articles, etc.)

Check my profile to see what I'm currently reading.