Monday, January 16, 2017

it started out with graduation, which helped me relive a very emotional experience, see below. several people responded to it, and in particular i responded to the way they worked together. i thought they represented a variety of emotions you could feel when watching a graduation, and, represented in a way the way the viewer himself puts an interpretation onto what is otherwise just a bunch of people sitting in chairs. it was interesting and twisted in a way.

to do it i used lunapic, a free photo editing service, which has all these ways of doctoring photos: "van gogh," "picasso," "watercolor," etc. really i have only begun to explore them. watercolor, in particular, is most interesting if you back off of it (it tends to drench everything in red just to start out, and a red tint is fun but a red bath is a little overdoing it). there are ones called "dark" and "beauty" which you will see. other artists represented are "escher" and "kandinsky"; kandinsky is especially interesting. of course there is "warhol". there are a few more. there are ways, as i said, to back off of some of them; one can also combine them. this is fascinating!

so, after a day of mostly just researching the d b cooper incident (which is quite interesting, see below), i spent a day doing pop. i did deer, couch, from the back porch, swallow, tigers, fence, white sands, look west, skunk, and roscoe. most of them are exhibits (two, three or four trying to work together) although skunk and look west are by themselves.

glorious day, to do just pop art, like the old days of pure posterization. i admire lunapic - it's free - and whatever it's doing to these photos, it's interesting. i have no idea about the formula they use to do it, but what fascinates me, really, is the combination. even "sharpen" has a hundred variables.

cloudcroft pix

Sunday, January 15, 2017

so there is a lot about the d b cooper case that is totally fascinating. i got caught on a new news article and then just read about the whole thing in a wikipedia article. wow! let me list the ways.

first, the guy was dressed up, in loafers and a trenchcoat, and simply dropped off the back of the plane, with $200,000, into the dark stormy washington wilderness. true, much of this wilderness may have been destroyed by mount saint helens a few years later. true, his parachute probably didn't work. but he was low enough to live; he had made sure of that. he probably didn't have an accomplice or anyone to know he was there, get him out, help him recover. but there is an outside chance he made it by himself. the fbi, by the way, has given up, concluding that he didn't make it. they are probably right, but who knows?

the most recent information is that there was material on his tie, hard metals, that indicate that he would have worked at boeing aerospace at the time, as that is the only place he could have got it. and, if it was on his tie, he must have been in there when he was wearing it, i.e. he was a professional, a manager, or some such thing. this should help them narrow it down! how many managers were there, who could have known what he knew about airplanes, and could have, at the same time, planned such a thing?

the only airplane hijacking to have ever succeeded, or not been resolved - and, for some reason, it has attracted the fancy of people left and right. one reason is that the guy totally disappeared into the night. another reason is that the money has pretty much never been recovered. out of the $200,000, one little pack of about $5,000 was recovered, with some bills missing from it; it washed up on the columbia, and the weather and the water had pretty much done it in. but does that mean 195,000 is still out there? yes, somewhere. it's been 46 years, but yes, somewhere, it's out there.

even at the time, they said he didn't meet the profile of your average plane hijacker. he was polite, well-spoken, well-dressed, and calm. he knew a little about the area; he recognized the base, and he recognized tacoma, as if he'd been there before. they were pretty comprehensive in their search for who he could be; obviously d b cooper wasn't his real name, or dan cooper, the name under which he'd bought his ticket. several people jumped forward to claim credit over the years. none of them, according to the f b i, were good enough. they had no evidence to match any of them to the scene. just drinking bourbon and smoking, occasionally, didn't do it for them. having said that someone had some of the experience that would qualify him - some familiarity with 727's, some familiarity with parachutes - that wasn't quite enough. there were lots of vietnam vets who had gone bad. lots of people who could have done it.

apparently, you don't have this kind of situation these days; they're just too good with the d n a. they picked up some stuff from the seat where he'd sat, and they got his tie, and they had some other pieces of information, but they just didn't know any more based on what they had. they had a dead end. they turned it over to private people, who were far more aggressive - and that's who came up with the hard metals on his tie.

now it also turned out that boeing fired a large number of people around that time. fired people left and right. i would think that's where they're looking now - who were these people? how many wore ties every day? how many were of the male persuasion, and disappeared sometime around 1971? and had that cool, i-could-be-anyone kind of look?

reminds me of a time, it was actually christmas day, or perhaps christmas eve, i got on a train in manhattan, hoping to make it all the way to buffalo for christmas, or by soon after christmas. there was a lot of stress on the train, as we were boarding at penn station (?), and it was busy in spite of being the holidays. as i settled into my seat i became aware that my seat-mate, right next to me, was a d b cooper-like kind of guy, didn't say anything, could be anyone, who knows. but nearby there was a post (new york newspaper, slightly tabloid-style), and on its cover it had a story about the new york killer who had been in manhattan in recent days. i can't remember what he had done; it might have been several murders, or incidents, at least. but he, too, was a d b cooper-like fellow, could have been anyone. if you asked what he'd looked like, you'd have to say, he looked like a police sketch.

so i said to this guy next to me, "hey, this guy was just in this neighborhood," to which he replied, "yes, we all were." and then, i became truly suspicious of all my fellow passengers, not least, him. but what's the likelihood that such a guy would get on an amtrak? on christmas eve? not likely, i think. still, i didn't sleep much that night. the guy himself, my seatmate, was gone early; he was going only to westchester, or some such. the train had a car where some partying was going on. i however didn't have a drink.

Friday, January 13, 2017

so today, after about seven days of subbing, at the high school and middle school level in our local town, i got to sub in a social studies classroom where the guy had a great library, with lots of textbooks, other books, and magazines.

i should mention that he also had five classes in a row of very highly motivated, well-behaved students, so that i occasionally got to look at the books, though for the most part, i did as i thought subs should do, namely, give them their assignment, and then glare at them expecting fully that they use the hour well; benevolently i had to allow that, since i was a sub, and it was a friday, they might have had other things they'd rather be doing.

one book that struck my fancy was a new mexico history book. it had the word "indians" in the very first sentence, which was a tip-off that new mexico might be a little behind in the history-book department. the book was from 1993; it's very possible that that was the last time the guy had taught new mexico history, and that in fact it was being updated regularly and continuously since 1993; i have no idea. i read it carefully in some specific parts and not so carefully in others. one thing i'm interested in is the treaty of guadaloupe hidalgo, because of which this area became part of the u.s.a., and in which the nation, the u.s.a., promised spanish settlers in new mexico, and elsewhere, that they could keep their spanish language and culture forever, upon entering the union. the book was very shallow and not thorough about this at all. in fact i'm not entirely sure of it myself, and may do more research on it. but the book had several other insights that did fascinate me.

one was that the dropping of the nuclear bomb here was really quite a big deal, and i often forget that; it happened maybe fifty miles west of us and it happened with the understanding that there really weren't many people in the area anyway, so, what the heck. but hey, you got hiroshima, you got nagasaki, and then you got the trinity site, white sands new mexico. those are the three.

the book made a big deal out of the pueblos, and did a pretty good job of explaining the complex relationship among the comanches, various tribes of apaches, the navajo and their various branches, and others, including kiowa, ute, etc. the book maintained that the hopi were in fact like the pueblos themselves. i'm still chewing on that one.

but the whole thing stirred me up a little. my son challenges the whole concept of state history classes; he thinks it should be an elective, in which case he would decline to elect. keep in mind that he's now tolerated both illinois history and texas history, so in a sense this is a third, and he's developed absolutely no genuine or permanent loyalty to the state itself, though he likes cloudcroft itself and is ok with the move over, in general. still, when he challenged me for specific justification for a state history class, my main one was that in a world where racial and ethnic groups are somewhat isolated it's important to get a general picture of whom one lives with, where they came from and why, and how the general relationship ended up the way it did. we should know our own specific region for the same reasons we should know our country and our world. but that's all i could say. i hadn't really developed a comprehensive, effective justification.

i have no idea if new mexico history is coming open as a class in which a teacher will be needed in the next five years, but, i'm inclined to jump on it if it is, being a historian, naturally, and attracted to the area. and i'd also like to write the next book. about this i'll just mention that i've had another two projects on the back shelf for years as well, and in fact, in line with my earlier post, which laid out what i want to accomplish in the near future, i'll just mention these three projects as things i've always wanted to do, but never had quite the circumstances to pull it off.

a high school grammar book, i think, would be in high demand. it would complement whatever else an english teacher does, and would be small. by the way i've noticed that there are no english subbing jobs, noenglish (or as they call it ELAR) permanent jobs, not much in the way of that kind of work. but making young high school seniors more fluent and competent in grammar, and in origin and nature of their language, would be high on my list. you look at today's high school seniors, that's one thing they're missing.

a new mexico history book, or something like it, would be quite interesting. this one i picked up had large subheadings and very simple language. it was as if he had taught a sixth-grade version of it, or something like that (very possible), or, as my wife suggested, that they were putting all books in fourth-grade language, to ensure that more people got the important concepts more often. i'm not sure; more research is necessary here. i thought of the idea only today, when the first sentence referred to "indians".

a book on linguistic theory, namely, how language is a self-organizing system - and by the way, you can look back on this blog, i'm sure, to last year and probably the year before, and confirm that this one has been on my docket for quite some time. the idea here is that it might take some calculus or high-level math to truly understand what i need to in order to explain it effectively, but i'm obviously in a better position to do that, than i used to be. and the most critical element here is time, and having room in the brain (and time to chew) that would make this whole project doable.

another book on the way technology influences a language would also be on my list, since, for years, i worked to present to the tesol conference a clear picture of ways in which technology was influencing the way people learned. i'm actually interested in a wider view: technology influences the way people learn; it influences what they know as language; it influences what is actually produced as opposed to what they perceive as right; it's a big picture. and it does this to every language. this is one more case where i can watch a simple slice of modern society, in my case 16-18-year olds, and i'm pretty sure i'm seeing an entire town's worth, more or less, about a thousand of them, and i can say, these folks are living in a different world than the one i grew up in, and the language they produce is different as a result.

part of this relies on the inevitability that 1) i receive a class to teach, thus our family has an income to live on, and, i get some insight into raising teenagers that is badly needed in spite of the fact that i've already raised three or four, or maybe six, or even seven if you count one who's in the chute as i write. one valuable thing about what i'm doing is that i can now see what things are just general to the age, the ages of 12-15 specifically and 16-18 as well; but, i also have to follow through, in a sense, want the job, get the job, get certification, keep it up, get myself in the class that will make myself most happy (determine that such a class exists), etc. it's a long road ahead of me. and, i'm sixty-two; sometimes, in this subbing gig, i'm really feeling it. i mean, people respect me, they don't give me really serious discipline problems; they are nice overall, and i feel i could teach in this situation, but after thirty years of very respectful internationals the simple lack of self control that i've seen in the last nine days is astounding. and far worse at the junior high level. i think most likely i'll stick with the high school, if only because they seem so civilized in comparison.

heard one story about a woman, sub, who had come in, and had control problems. so she brought a whistle, and thought she'd use it whenever she needed to. but alas, the students got around her, and behind her, and one actually got on the desk, and got the whistle, and was using it as continuously and as loudly as he could...while standing on the desk....this, i thought, was a pretty good story of how bad things could get. they never got quite so bad with me. i did have a v-tech class that was pretty rowdy, and a middle-school class that pulled just about everything they possibly could. paper airplanes were common. crumpled up paper that didn't make it to the wastebasket was the battleground. it was my job, the way i saw it, to make sure it did make it to the wastebasket. and sometimes i had to make sure they knew that was the line. there was a lot of line-crossing. in general, though, nothing got broken. no kids got injured. it was close, but if we weren't heard in other classes, that was a success.

and so it goes. it's my new job. and part of it is, i go down a hill 6000 feet in the morning, and back up 6000 feet in the afternoon. it's my life. there are cliffs on the side of the road; ancient caves; it snows at the top, but at the bottom it's sunny and warm. my ears pop. it uses a lot of gas to go up. the cliffs are narrow and not much room for error. deer and elk populate the roads in the off-hours. some people don't know how to use the passing lanes. there's construction, orange cones and reduced speed, delay, as they cut down part of a rock cliff to make the road wider, in a place where some logging truck clipped someone earlier in the year, because his log just couldn't get around the narrow mountain. and, heavily patrolled; at the passing lane, if you go ten or twenty over to get around someone, you're dead. safety corridor, double the fines. work area; double the fines. double it twice, it's probably over a thousand, as those have become a little steep. so the pressure's on, and winter hasn't even started. but hey, they're closing the road altogether in april, for a while, late at night, and then, things will get really interesting. hope i'm still in the game, is all i can say. i'm feeling a little old, sometimes, as i'm not used to the 40-hour schtick. gotta get my stamina up, i guess.

my job, as i said, is usually giving out worksheets, which they may or may not take seriously, and glaring at them, hoping they follow my rigid rules about cell-phone use and making noise with potato chips. as a sub, i'm fully aware that they're going to be a little looser than they usually would. i have mental freedom; i can think what i want, and do. i'm tired of my poetry, yet have been working on it, as i usually do, when i have the chance. i've written a few more stories (see below). i am kind of free to arrange it as i wish; they are nice to me; they are grateful that someone would be willing to be a sub; there seems to be plenty of work subbing. i have seen many many kids; i'm getting to know a few of them. this town, by the way, is bigger than the <1000 town i live in; there's probably >1400 kids in the school. not sure. i can tell you, there's an interesting mix.

but i've just begun to notice.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

new story:
Sacred
enjoy! comments welcome!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

graduation




Tuesday, January 03, 2017

pop from around

Saturday, December 31, 2016

new story:
Steam Tunnel
enjoy! comments welcome!
so a dense thick cloud has surrounded our village now for two days. it rains sometimes, and snow sometimes, and sometimes it does both, hard or gentle, but the cloud remains: we can't see much, and the foggy nature of the gray moisture passes through and changes what we do see. we have whole family, four kids, in a cabin, but that's not the problem, although kids get restless, and sometimes it gets a little rowdy. when it's cold and damp i work on the fire. the fire sometimes dies from neglect, or gets a little thin. i try to keep the wood coming in from outside. on a grim and wet day it feels good to keep the heat coming from the big stove. we have propane too, and have come to rely on it quite a bit, but really i'd rather be using wood - all the time.

then there's the puppy. a white, furry little thing, he has coffee colored ears and some little specks of brown on his white shag. and he finds my lap whenever i have one. at first he perches, and sees what he can see, but then he settles in, and pretends to take a nap, in just the position where about all i can do is pet him a lot. he's come to find that lap right away, almost whenever he can. and i don't mind for the most part. sometimes i'm playing online boggle, and it makes it hard for me to use my fingers as fast as i want. but what's more important, getting more points, or petting a puppy? sometimes the cat is his ruthless competitor. when she's in the picture, really it's a matter of who gets there first, and one of them is a little unhappy. in that situation, sometimes i just find something else to do.

my present seat allows me a great view of the big picture window, which is entirely gray - you can't see a thing. not the white sands, not the back side of the village, not the little road below our house - nothing. i like this chair because i have some sense of looking out over the valley, ordinarily. it's a little more upright than the other one, which is deeper, which hauls me in, and makes it impossible to do any serious work. it's break, so i've been allowing myself some free time, but i really want to get going on some writing projects and, even if the cabin is somewhat crowded and busy, i should still be trying to get going on some of this stuff. it's new years' eve now. i'm taking stock, wondering what will happen in the coming year, trying to get my strength together for a new job. but here's what's on the docket:

finish the autobiography: it's written; it has a hundred chapters; for some reason i just haven't polished it off. one reason might be that my life just changed dramatically again. a project in which i kind of casually reflect on the sixty-two years before, has just had the "casually" taken out from under it. if i reflect at all, it will be on the run. while life is changing. while i start the most dramatic commute of any i've ever even imagined.

finish interference the novel: this too is almost written. it tells the story of a sports writer caught up in a much larger drama in st. louis - kind of st. louis from an outsider's perspective. i could be scathing about st. louis itself, but, ironically, i have no strong feelings about st. louis anymore, and am not even sure why i set about writing it. it was more because of my fascination with cahokia, and the fact that st. louis was once called "mound city" for all its tenth-century real estate. the other stuff - the arch, the busch stadium, things like that, i have no strong feeling for, i just throw it in there. and the message? my desire to get any particular message out there has kind of evaporated. for a story, i can muster up a message. for a novel, i have a hard time keeping one going over the course of a long book. i'm still working on it.

another novel, this one ripping universities as places hollow of character, except bad character, and pretty much totally betraying their function, the search for truth and the protection of free expression. my plan here was to put university life side by side with wal-mart - and really look at the ruthless modus operandi of both places. this one is still in the design phase though.

one other novel is really waiting for morty sklar's book on the actualist movement - he's almost done too, but seriously bogged down - and it for me is totally in the design phase. the 70's was an interesting era in iowa city, and i was there. so it's my sincere desire to get it into print the best i can.

now the reason i put these novels first is, basically, my wife says to me one day, all this writing you do, you ought to try to make some money. and it's true, i've written a lot, five books of short stories, at least five of poetry, and haven't made much. it could be that i have absolutely no publicity engine - but it's also because as you can imagine, novels might do better than little books of what my cousin calls "fun stories"...anyway i accepted the challenge, and now the question is: should i make an effort to sell them? turn to novels? apply myself in some way i haven't before? i have some other projects, as you'll see; it's an open question.

short stories - this is what i have been doing - i've written two or three in three days. i now have about fourteen for a set of about twenty - and i'm doing better at this, i think, now having written well over a hundred. it was pointed out to me earlier this year that the walmart ones were the best - and i had to admit that they were inspired - they were also all crime stories - but in the search for another 'theme' - I actually came up with a few (airport, cell phone) - one alternative i came up with was just another walmart one. an extension of the first, but wider - not all crime stories - and a little more strict about never mentioning the name. so another walmart book is on the horizon, if in fact, i choose to go in this direction.

e pluribus haiku - if in fact i want 1000 every year, i have to in fact produce three or four a day. i go through times, like now, when i'm not producing. if i'm not producing, what i often do is print, review, refresh, and i will almost certainly do this soon. i am now about eight months (2/3) through the year, but have only slightly more than half, nowhere near two thirds. i'm very stuck on some states - have to do research, get very close to what certain states are about. it's a challenge. i'm on break, and ignoring it.

quaker plays - of all the things i published this year, this was the one that kind of made a splash. the quaker world is so small, so limited, and so needy for good educational resources, that this book of plays was very well accepted and people were genuinely grateful that anyone would write such a thing. a quaker playwright comes around what, every ten or twenty years. also, there are a few i have in mind that are kind of like grown-up plays. they deal with themes of gay rights, rifts in the quaker world, and possibly a few more - this book would be a kind of quaker-discussion starter. or, performance, for the provocative-minded. this also is in the planning stages.

esl readers' workbook - with this one i take some stories i've already written, and simply write a few more - they are somewhat international. i am thinking of the international ones here, but some of the american ones are pretty good too. but the hook is, you have comprehension questions at the end of them. you don't necessarily make a reading textbook, because you don't go to all the trouble to define or spell out what "reading skills" are. the only skill you concentrate on is getting the right answer. and the book is full of right answers. i made this kind of comprehension exercise for what, thirty years; it's a skill that i developed pretty well. and, one that i could revive fairly easily before my mind turns to mush. i'm kind of leaning toward this one, if only because i realize it's an expanding, ever-important market.

calendars - i made one, this year, of my dad's photos, as usual, but it rekindled in me the desire to make two more, both of them commercial. one - a cloudcroft calendar. a way to visually render my hometown - although the challenge with this is to not make it favor any of the local businessmen. if you were one, you too would have a keen eye for favoritism toward any particular one. the challenge, then, would be to get elk, deer, bear, whatever - trees, roads, cliffs, local landmarks - well, you get the picture. try not to make it about the merchants. the other one would be quaker. a quaker calendar would have "first day," etc., but there would be nothing stopping me from clarifying, for example, "seventh month (july)" or whatever. for this one it might be a challenge to get the photos. it might also be used to generate funds for quaker organizations, i.e. q.v.s. or a.f.s.c.

as you can see, the picture is full of choices. late at night, rather than work on all this cool stuff, i do online boggle instead, because when i feel like i really need rest, that's a good way to get it. i scroll on facebook a lot, and check in on the news regularly, but i don't watch football, i don't do other serious waste-time operations. at the moment, clouds are moving, swirling around the hill, and the sun actually came out for a bit, over the white sands, as i wrote, but i don't take it to mean anything. it's a benefit of sitting in this particular west-facing chair, slightly less comfortable, but looking outside. and my feeling is that if i keep plugging away, something will break. one of the above plans will come to fruition. maybe not all, but it's never hurt to dream.

musically, i've had a sore arm. so i gave myself a break on the fiddle, and haven't pushed myself too hard on the banjo either. it's break. there are some musicians in the area. it's only a matter of time before i find them; that will be soon enough. in the meantime, i'm performing in las cruces tomorrow, and this could be anything - i was asked to bring poetry, but might in fact bring the banjo or the fiddle or both. this kind of shakes up the poetry situation - some become more salient, more prominent, rise up on the horizon. it's a chance to see it in a new light, re-evaluate it. and i look forward to it. las cruces is now one of our spots, a place to go.

more later, and in the meantime, happy new year!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Boxcars on Walnut



Now available on Amazon $5.38 + shipping
Coming on Kindle $.99 (soon) as well

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

ok it's break, and i'm trying to relax, sit around, maybe read a magazine. there's lots to do on the press - new book out, move to cloudcroft, get some other stuff put together and out - not to mention publicity, i do almost none, and really need to work on it. but for now, it's time to rest. the sun goes down over the white sands. the weather is cold but isn't killing us; there's a little snow and it's sticking around, but in places where the sun can reach the ground, the snow is gone. supposed to snow again around new year.

so this morning i set out for a mountain path i've had my eye on for a while. i took my son past it one day and told him, that's the path i've never taken. i think i know where it goes, but i really have no idea. to get there you have to start on what's called the osha trail, near our house, a two or three mile loop that goes down, at the far end, to what i call the meadow. back behind the meadow, on what we've come to call the meadow loop trail, this path shoots up a mountain into the wilderness. that's why i've had my eye on it. it's the path i hadn't taken.

the osha trail was surprisingly snowy, even slippery - that's because the snow is gone most places, but where there are lots of trees, and the sun takes longer to reach, those are the places where there is snow. i walked down a mountainside to the meadow, and had to be careful. a whole group of hikers were coming up; they are fairly common on the osha trail itself. also at the meadow, another group of hikers at a bench. but behind the meadow, on the meadow loop trail, i found my mountain path and took it, up the mountainside. First place i saw was a kind of glade, a high mountain clearing that looked back down the trail, but was fairly open. then i went over the top of the mountain itself, and down a ways on the other side. i came to another clearing, this one with piles of fallen logs, but clear regeneration - trees were coming back. from this one, a road came out to the east - north east. it wasn't like anyone had been on the road - no one had been anywhere near this trail, the best i could figure - but my guess was that the road went back to the paved road, near the campground, and the slash pit, where they give away wood. it was possible, conceivably, to carry this wood out of there. in better weather, of course.

the place was quite empty, no tracks in the snow, except maybe one elk. no sign of any life anywhere, deer, elk, bear, or anything. the morning sun was coming up, and by the time i got back to the meadow, it had that morning light, clear blue sky, and the people were gone. but the path back home was still snowy; the sun hadn't made it into the forest yet. it was a long walk, beautiful, and invigorating, and now my day is shot. i sit by the computer, doing online boggle or maybe facebook, and not much else. 'course, it's vacation.

feeling sentimental upon my return from illinois, i found an old supply of pop, made by the computer at work, mostly, and uploaded it, thinking i would apologize to all my carbondale friends on facebook who i was unable to see. the good part of it is, i had an excuse, a 16-hour ice-storm marathon which literally robbed me of the time to hang out. the bad thing is, chances are, i'm not too good at looking them up anyway, and the ten extra hours, i'd have probably spent it in longbranch with endless cups of coffee. i was glad to be back. on the other hand, i was glad to turn around and start heading west - southwest, back to my new home in the mountains. sentimental, yes. but really wanting to be back there, live there, soak in the gently decaying, shrinking nature of the place, not really.
new story:
Their Own Devices
enjoy....comments welcome!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

new story:
Closer than they appear
about my recent trip!
enjoy! comments welcome as usual!