Wednesday, March 22, 2017

on monday i was a sub at a new mexico history class. now that's a little frustrating for me, because i love new mexico history, and basically kids refuse to learn anything from a sub, until i figure out how to get through to them. they see a sub, and they figure, it's vay-cay time. in this particular class, though, there were lots of books, and the teacher had left a lot of stuff for them to do. it was like they had some huge worksheet to finish, and all i had to do was sit there.

so i opened this book, which was called nuevo mexico, though when i wrote this i'd lost the details, like the author's name. seems to me the author was joe sando, or something like that. well, deep in that book was a story of the language families, and specifically, the language families of the occupants of the pueblos.

now when i asked the students, they all knew about the pueblos. there are nineteen of them today. they were there when the spaniards arrived, in the late 1500's. there was a rebellion against the spaniards (the first american revolution, one book called it) where they actually removed the spanish control over their lives. but this book made a claim about the language families of the pueblo people. it claimed that there were three basic families. the first was the tiwa/tewa/towa, the biggest one, responsible for maybe ten or eleven of the modern pueblos, and distantly related to navajo and other well known families of languages. the second was keresan, the language of about five or six of the pueblos, and the last one, zuni (i think?), residents of a single pueblo, unrelated to the others and possibly from mexico. but of the keresan, he (the author) said that he personally felt they were from the caribbean - he had proof based on their words for north, east, south and west, and he had spent considerable time trying to prove it. he further said that these people had stopped in florida on their way out, whereupon they had picked up the habit of naming the leader's (shell-covered) abode as the "white house."

i was astounded by this, and the following day, i was a sub at another new mexico history class, this one in the middle school. once again students were resistant to learning anything from a sub. but hey, i told them, pay attention. they were studying the period of time when our part of new mexico was an independent nation (the republic of texas) and the treaty of guadalupe hidalgo, in which the usa, which badly wanted to expand westward and increase its land, promised the spanish settlers of albuquerque (who had been there, speaking spanish, for about 250 years) that they could continue to speak spanish and live in spanish, vote and be full citizens, if they chose to join the us. the spanish wanted to - they didn't care much for mexican rule, and didn't see that the anglos changed much about their lives, so they agreed. little did they know of course that trump would come along and claim that they were all rapists, but that's another story. at this time, the time of guadalupe hidalgo, everyone thought it was a win-win, and there was fifteen million bucks involved too, if i'm not mistaken. or maybe it was a hundred fifty.

well anyway i told this class about this book that claimed the keresan people were from the caribbean. as far as i'm concerned the author of that book was a genuine historian, though he may have been wrong about the keresan, who knows about the ancient people? but i find his theory fascinating for several reasons.

first is that if the ancient people crossed from the caribbean islands to new mexico, then my guess is that they followed the river, namely the rio grande. but the question is whether they knew where they were going or not. and, did they know there were people where they were going? had they had visitors that told them, that at the end of the rio grande, was a high valley where people could settle and grow stuff? or did they just take off in river boats not knowing what they would find? and did they have enough to live on, up through big bend, el paso, las cruces, t or c, the long haul up to the new pueblo?

all good questions worthy of further research. just now i was forced to get up out of my chair, whereupon i found the little scrap of paper i'd written some of this stuff on. so i now know the following: this came from the book nuevo mexico, p. 28; the kerasan pueblos were acoma, laguna, santa ana, san felipe, santo domingo, zia and cochiti (notice that zia is the one with the north-east-south-west symbol on the new mexico license plate; it's also featured in the new mexico pledge, perfect friendship among all peoples, that my students recite every morning). also, here are some of the keresan expressions: hane (east), pune (west), crowa (south), tipani (north). hana ha'i (when we were in the east)...

at the end of the chapter, there were three references. one was by sando himself, sando and agoyo (2005), but was about popay, the leader of the first american revolution, by the residents of the pueblos against the spanish. another was marder (2005) - indians of the americas. and the last was graham (1981), ancient mesoamerica. so begins my research. he could have been speaking off the cuff - but this was a textbook, and my guess is that if he had done all this research he had put it somewhere. not necessarily in the book about popay - the others had articles by other experts as well. such books are golden and are available at local libraries.

the ancient people, if they didn't like one continent, they just set out for another.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

embrace tiger, return to mountain

Sunday, March 12, 2017

so, as a substitute teacher in middle schools and high schools, i've taken to reading the signs that teachers put in their classrooms to inspire students. of course i also read their directions (agenda) - what students are supposed to do - and anything else there is to read. i look at their family pictures sometimes, and imagine what their life is like as a teacher. i try to imagine how happy they are.

but the directions for the students, i try to figure out. i'm probably the only one who reads them, or rather, students who have been in the class since august have some idea what they intended, whereas i, a one-time visitor, have to surmise or assume.

got to an esl class the other day, eight students only, who all knew each other very well. one of the signs in their room said, "always raise your hand." we can guess what that one means, you need something, that's how you make it clear. but, if you read the sign, the sign says to always raise your hand. excuse me?

same day, i'm in a math class. it had one that said, "reason abstractly and quantitatively." i thought that was interesting. i couldn't quite figure out how to do it though. I mean, i can use both kinds of skills, abstract and quantitative, to figure out a geometry problem. i can't quite reason quantitatively though. and i'm still stuck on why you can't divide by zero. it seems to me, if you reason abstractly, that you can divide by zero.

ok, so i'm subbing in cloudcroft, where everyone's bears, rather than tigers, and they want the students to think like championship bears and be fierce, loyal, smart, and everything like that. so theirs say, "bear in mind" to do most important things first, "bear in mind" to syncretize, etcetera. and they all make sense to some degree, although you don't always bear this stuff in mind. but my favorite is the last one, "bear in mind" to sharpen your saw.

now we can assume that they want their students to think sharply, incisively, and all that. and i'm sure that your mind has tools for doing this kind of thinking. well, if you think about it, we must have some tools for thinking incisively and sharply, though i'm not sure, and i have no idea what they would look like. but if i don't even know what they look like, how can i sharpen them? i have saws, and i can sharpen them, though i don't, and i can recognize that my work would be easier if i did. but the kinds of tools that middle school kids use to solve science problems (that was in a science class by the way, and all the students knew those bear habits) - well, i'm still guessing about that. i just don't know.

there was one cooking class where they let the students make the signs. one said "alway's wash your hands"....i was horrified. if i was a teacher, i'd have simply made that student draw the entire poster again. no way i'd hang it on the wall. except maybe to say, there are apostrophe errors, then there are classic stupid apostrophe errors, which nobody on earth should allow anyone they know to produce under any circumstances. but i tend to be a little judgmental about such things. it's partly because my entire life is discipline now, and i don't even really get to teach much. i was in an english class, and they were doing metaphor and allusion, and the allusion (which was to eden) went way over their heads, because kids don't know from eden these days. but when they were doing metaphor, i said metaphor was like "love is like a flower," and then i brought out my "bear in mind to sharpen your saw" metaphor. in some ways, love is like a flower, i suppose, and in some ways it is not; and, your mind, we could say, is like a saw, to some degree, maybe. i hope mine isn't rusting out, out in the back where it rains and the fog rolls in and sits on us, up high in the mountains where we are. bear in mind, to sharpen your saw. it's my new motto. that, and embrace the tiger, return to mountain.

Monday, March 06, 2017

new story:
Mannequin Challenge
comments welcome! enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

watching the weather-in-motion map as a bad storm zeroes in on my old hometown, carbondale illinois. three deaths already, at least one when the storm hit the interstate on the other side of the river, in missouri. actually there are several orange blobs moving through on the weather map, so it's not clear by any means which one hurt whom, which is going where, where the most deadly ones or the tornadoes are. it appears to me there are storms all over the place, iowa, northern illinois, and this one coming through from the bootheel up through and into indiana.

worst tornado ever came up on this path, up the river, and into the flat low area near carbondale, curving up into benton-west frankfort and over into indiana. killed a lot of people, and folks around there got pretty interested in warning systems and helping each other out, when the chips were down. tornadoes ruin a lot of old houses, knock over trees, take cars off their wheels, or even trucks, even semis.

we are a little relieved to be out of their path, up here on the mountain. but today, we had a windstorm of our own. it was blowing and whistling, and it was very cold, maybe about twenty - but with that wild raging wind, it was a "feelslike" of probably ten below. it was wild. leaves and trees were blowing and swaying all around. nothing like a tornado though.

the weather map keeps replaying itself, and coming right up to the edge of the town, then going back and doing it again. i'm on facebook as well, and lots of my friends are still there, in that town, laying low, many of them watching the same weather channel i am, no doubt.

besides the 1920 tornado, or whenever that first one was, that killed maybe 200 people, deadliest tornado ever, there was another one, one that i lived through, in about 2007, i'm not sure exactly. this one was called a 'derecho' or straight-line tornado, whipped right through town at about 90 mph, knocked over trees, destroyed houses, but didn't kill anyone. because it didn't kill anyone, it went under the radar of the world, and lots of people forgot. i didn't forget, though i'm somewhat fuzzy on the date. it was like may 9th or something, maybe the 7th. graduation day. after that, the place got real hot and muggy for like weeks. and we had no power. folks were out, sharing generators, and having cookouts out in the yards.

we had a shelter, a fiberglass thing, buried in our back yard, on the west side of carbondale. my wife and son, now fifteen, went down there during the storm. i was on campus, and our youngest son was also on campus when it happened. trees fell on every major road, and they were unable to get to us. i'm not sure how we ever got home. at some point we all got into the car and simply left twon. they were out of power for about ten days. we didn't have to be there any longer - it was about 99 degrees, very humid, and with no power and young children we felt a little helpless. but, we came back in a few days, tired of hotels and determined to make do one way or another.

so now my friends are under their stairs, in some safe place, or maybe the safest place - if they have a basement, they're in it. they weren't that big on basements there - it was too wet, and unrelenting - so things like our fiberglass shelter, were about the bet you could do. even the school was poorly prepared. the university was ok - but they had a lot of damage, because the trees were so huge on campus. and dozens of them fell.

oh well, long night. but i'm up early to sub in a "low incidence" class. whatever that is. chou

Friday, February 24, 2017

new story:
Honey Pot
comments welcome...enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

left home today determined to take a look at the triangle house, a ramshackle little place about halfway down the steep hill we use to get groceries down in the valley. the hill is a mile down, though the whole ride is about twelve miles, from 9000 feet to about 3500 feet, and the road snakes down the mountainside taking narrow turns, some of which have no rails, and some of which occasionally give way causing great stress and tremulation. rocks fall on it. there is construction on it. it's heavily patrolled, with most of it being safety corridor (double fines) and some of it construction zone (double fines again). so the stakes are high, and i try to go the speed limit. more so, since it's occasionally frozen and slippery.

so today i'm careening down this hill and a guy flashes his lights at me on the way up. watch out for baker, i thought, as baker the patrolman is often on this hill. i slowed way down and prepared to turn into the triangle house, and there he was, tucked back in the bushes near the house, checking out speeders.

having pulled in, i couldn't very easily pull back out, so i got out of the car, and said to him (his window was open), i was hoping to poke around this house, if you don't mind. and i did. it had issues, but i didn't want to hang around, especially, him watching me and all, and also, my car blocking his easy access to some degree. so i said, it has some issues, and he agreed again, and i left, and went on my merry way down the hill.

he's often around, in one of many pullovers on the hill. i assume it's the legendary baker, who has hauled in more traffic fines than any patrolman in new mexico, from what i've heard. but in fact i don't know baker from anyone, so i'm not even sure about what i'm reporting here. i think that was the guy, though, as it looks like the same one i usually see. he was nice enough to me.

so one of the house's issues is that he uses it to pull over speeders. but we actually like it that he's there, because these people that fly up and down the hill are a hazard to all of us. we talk about trying to remain focused on the steep hill; i'm on it twice a day, it's hazardous, and it's hard to stay under the speed limit. it's hard even to stay between the lines. focus focus!

there are ancient caves on both sides of the road. there's a huge wide tularosa valley, at one point, where the sun lands on the organ mountains way out there, or the rising sun behind the sacramentos glows on them. it's hard not to at least look at some of the scenery, winding little roads up into the mountains, for example, or the caves off in the hills.

down in the valley, it's twenty degrees warmer than here. not much drama, in terms of the roads themselves. people hear you're from the mountains, and they're kind of in awe of it. they have fallen into the habit, alas, of not going up too often. it's just too crazy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

little bit of weather came through, which caused me to not accept jobs on monday and tuesday, but lots of the jobs were crappy anyway. i don't take part-time ones, or autism ones, and for a long time i wouldn't take elementary ones, though i might change my ways on that one, as they say little kids are really nice. they just seem totally bonkers to me. and lots of the elementary ones are at holloman, an air force base which is actually another fifteen or twenty minutes beyond the thirty or forty it already takes me to get to town. i've been nervous about the road closures on the steep mountain i take every morning to get down to work - when it gets really stopped up, there really isn't much of a choice on how to get down - so, paralyzed with fear and stress, i took a couple of days off.

you'd think i'd use it productively, but, for the most part, i did poetry. i have a long list of things to do - go back to school to be a high school history teacher, write a book on self-organization, publish my memoirs, finish the newest collection of stories - my wife says, please write something that makes a little more money, and i've agreed, in principle, to try. what's the point of writing if it's all for nothing? but somehow the point of poetry is deep inside me, very expressive, and it's a work of several years, and instead of just being able to put it aside, on the contrary, i'm pressured by the deadline, which is april. i'm now at about seven hundred of them, with three hundred to go. it looks like i can make it. if i systematically sit down and crank them out, i should be able to do it. and this will be the first one that has all thousand of them new.

so this morning i went shooting down the hill with an old cajun cd on the music, and wrote louisiana haiku during the breaks. my job is basically babysitting junior high (today) kids, hoping they do their math assignment (they did, actually, for the most part, today). sometimes other people are involved; i co-teach with various people. i spent some time in a computer lab, and actually copied the words to a song. the kids were doing halo, probably, full aware that as a sub i would have a hard time manipulating them into actually doing what they were supposed to. Each of them will go home and do their history project alone, at night, almost all being computer-literate. but that time, when they were a bunch of wild boys in a lab with access to halo - to them, that was a good development. they like subs.

alamo is a hot and dusty town, even in february, but dramatic, tucked against these huge mountains that i live in. the sun and clouds cast shadows on the mountains sometimes, so that you see these huge shadow outlines on the dry side, and they move. the town actually got a lot of rain and snow recently, and this is a big deal for a town that gets what, four inches a year maybe. i watched the foliage, desert brush, for signs that it changed color even a little bit. but it all looked like desert scrub to me, the same color it was last week. i stay off the mud trails anyway, you get the sense that, if you go off the road into the red desert sand, you'll sink and not come up. sometimes i take the road that hugs the mountain, just because it's so dramatic and beautiful, and people don't seem to want to take it much. it's four lanes, so if you slow down to gawk at the mountain, it's ok, and it doesn't have much traffic. it also has the coffee shop, also tucked up against the mountain.

lots going on - with kids rapidly turning into teenagers, with my job basically being discipline all day, and with the weather so darn crazy you don't know what might come up the pike. that storm - they thought it would be twelve to nineteen inches, but it didn't turn out that way, i probably could have made it down the hill. we're only in february though, much more could be coming.

then, to top it off, today, an unexplained dizziness came through me. a class of reasonably bad kids started looking fuzzy and i was afraid to stand up. out in my car i heaved my lunch - bad. not sure what it was. now, at home, by the fire, i try to pull it together again. you sign up for these sub gigs one at a time. you never quite know what you'll get. today, though, one kid comes in, and says, "i like this sub. the other one yelled at me for nothing," something to that effect. it's all about when and where you snap. the sub i was with, he snapped early and hard, but he kind of eased off when he saw how much i was able to put up with. i actually got more work out of them, being relatively easy on them (not true in the computer lab), but at least i didn't have to send anyone packing. i don't like writing them up. as they get to know my line, though, it seems we get along better. and so, tomorrow, another day.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

new story:
comments welcome! enjoy!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

the sun goes down in the mountains; another day is gone. super bowl is tomorrow and i've promised my son i'd watch it. he likes the patriots though, i don't. those are the guys who let all the air out of the balls and got away with it, though i might have my story wrong here. to me, if the government is taken over by a bunch of immoral millionaire liars, why should i root for anyone called "patriots?"

on the other hand, it is a kind of north-south thing, and i dislike the falcons too, although it was said at one point that they have a quaker on their side. he isn't a quaker, someone pointed out, he's a catholic who played for william penn. well what does that mean? and besides he's a football player. this means that if he does what they want him to do, he'll gather up a violent froth and go after those patriots with a vicious fervor. i don't really support football at all, but i support my son, who needs good information to take back to his classmates, for example, a solid grasp of the rules of football which one best gets from one's father, when one doesn't want to admit that one doesn't have a clue, otherwise. he also wants me to take him hunting (like the other fathers do), but i've been dragging my feet.

actually my team is the cleveland browns, who didn't even win their first game until something like december, and are therefore in the very basement and will probably get another good draft pick, like jonny football, who will be wasted away or perhaps traded away. i thought of just switching my allegiance to the cowboys (so now my two teams would be the cowboys and indians), but, the fact is, i have very little love for football at all, though now my wife tells me that they are taking great pains to make sure children are not getting killed in the process of playing it. by great pains, i mean, they are changing helmets, or changing the game, or just making sure you can do it, and not have your brain turn into commas. i decided, a while back, that since the game was dangerous, and fatal, to so many, that i wouldn't support it by watching or doing anything else.

but now, my son badly wants me to watch with him, and even has the channel arranged so we can get it on his x-box (this has not always been guaranteed - we generally live without television). so i agreed to do it, as i have a longstanding promise to spend time with him whenever it is possible, and under his terms. if that's what he wants, ok, i'll be there for him, and i'll give a report too, as the super bowl is the number one advertising venue of the year, as well as the top showcase for the best commercials that exist, or at least the ones that are all geared toward people like me, paunchy, middle-aged, sedentary, semi-aggressive males. although, to tell you the truth, they probably prefer the ones with money, or at least the ones that don't let their wives do their shopping.

from the pure genius-in-commercial-making point of view, they actually have commercials that people talk about the following day, as in, did you see that doritos commercial? or, the bud ones were really good this year. you have people who just watch the commercials. you have other people who are basically football fans, but have been drawn in to the commercials over the years. you have people who just watch because everyone, absolutely everyone else, is.

now that alone is a commentary on today's society, a commentary as bad as electing you-know-who, or saying that violence against women and blatant lying are obviously not deal-breakers for most people, even a few of them who would call themselves christians. in fact there's a wide love of football throughout the nation's churches, and there are even a few quaker football fans, though many are like me, actively disdaining the violence. quite a few just tune in, watch it, have something to talk about among other guys, and don't really have a problem with the fact that the people actually doing it are killing themselves, supposedly. the game was made for television. we have lots of very comfortable living rooms, why not make a plate of nachos and sit down and enjoy it?

one element of it is, it's a kind of mid-winter festival. we've been cooped up a couple months already. the groundhog has given us his wretched news. the snow keeps piling in. but most of all, this house is too small to say no to a kid.
new story:
The Bottle Game
enjoy! comments welcome as usual...