Monday, September 17, 2018

the big news around here was the closure of sunspot observatory; people were evacuated for about a week, and nobody ever really knew why. they are still speculating about why. someone was threatening the staff. someone was picking up signals from white sands, down in the valley. or the feds just wanted to close it down (though it reopened). or, aliens.

sunspot is about ten or fifteen miles of mountain roads from here. we are the only small town anywhere near; though we are less than eight hundred, we are the big city in these mountain parts. it was all folks talked about for about a week. kids at my kids' school were evacuated, and didn't know why. later, they were able to return to their houses, and they still didn't know why they had been evacuated. maybe one of them had family who was involved? one family stood by the road, mad that the world had been told they were evacuate, but that they themselves couldn't protect their own stuff. people are a bit touchy up here in the mountains, about their personal property. that's an understatement.

i kind of dropped out of school this week. it rushed by as i was working three jobs at the time. they booted me out for non-payment, and the heck of it was, i had the money. i was willing to pay. i just let it get by me, and they booted me out. i called and e-mailed all the responsible people, and nobody jumped in to help me pay my fees. so it went by the wayside, and the heck of it is, it might cost me this whole teaching gig. not now; i'm licensed until july. but in july, if i'm not done with my education, the license goes. and, i'm not all worked up about it. i'm sixty four. if i retire, and drift gently into the sunset, that won't be the end of the world.

one class i'm teaching is entirely out of hand. they are out to break me, make enough noise so that no teaching happens. there are enough of them so that they are winning, at this point. i need to be a little more clever, i think. at the moment i'm outnumbered. in a class of about sixteen (actually more like twenty-two), only about six diligently want to hear the algebra that is being taught by movie. no one is hearing it. the others are too loud. i can yell and harp, and it only makes it worse. not sure what to do.

everyone's talking about sunspot. to some people, the fbi is the deep state, immediately suspicious. if the fbi was out here, it's evidence of an attack on trump. on the other hand, the government is trying to close down all the observatories. the government is anti-science, and this is part of a sustained attack on all things science. or, here's another story: there is big-time sunspot action. trump blames the hurricanes on the sunspots, and doesn't want anyone proving him wrong. or, it's the chinese. they have spies up there on the mountain. looking down at the whitesands.

and, the truth is, thirty five years into it, i'm kind of tired of teaching. tired of harping at people to have minimum respectful behavior. tired of teaching something they don't care about, which they don't. tired of fighting a losing battle.

district-wide, they are hurting in the math department. some of my juniors had a year off in geometry; they just didn't have a decent teacher for them, so they got in the habit of not thinking about math, and they're still in the habit. we can call them lazy, but, apparently the district let it happen. it's my job to not let it happen with another bunch.

i actually have four classes of juniors, and two of freshmen. the freshmen, ninth-graders, come immediately after lunch, and again in the last hour. it's the last hour class that is most totally out of control.

the thing is, they're throwing their lives away, and it's all because it's more fun, on the immediate term, to make a sub miserable, and make a lot of noise, than to face the fact that they are flunking algebra, which they don't care about. it's like, if they can blame it on the sub, they'll move up without having to do the work, which is hard anyway; it's a gamble, that if they can get the school to simply blame the sub, they'll get away with it. some are uneasy, knowing that if they fail to learn the stuff, they really are screwed. but most have given up caring, about the immediate grade, about actually learning it, about anything about getting behind this making-noise-during-class thing.

that's all the news from new mexico. a low school, in the nation's worst education system. and sometimes i feel like i'm not helping much.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Monday, August 27, 2018

the tiger below represents my return to alamogordo high school; i am now in the third week of teaching algebra I and algebra II as a permanent sub. last week the word was that someone would come and replace me, but he never showed up, and i remain here, in an upper southern hallway, a little outside the main traffic centers of the building. sun bathes the hallways and heats them up, but my room is steadily air conditioned.

there are seven class periods of the day, and i get the second one off. this is fortunate because it helps me get organized, and it contains the pledges, which always make me uncomfortable. the rest of my day is a steady stream of 9th and 11th graders who have all kinds of problems with algebra, most psychological. they get their parents involved. they complain about the homework. worst, they try to disrupt classes so that everyone is as bad off as they are. i struggle with this and teach algebra the best i can. it's like esl in that you teach people to do stuff, as opposed to just knowing it.

we subs are at the bottom of the food chain, always about to be devoured by someone, or disappear entirely. nevertheless i have what could be called a math teaching career. i try to teach math. some of them try to learn. we solve for x. this happens day in and day out.

this morning, the high school is calm. security is at every door, and the late people are getting passes written up to enter the building. i think the real troublemakers don't even show up on monday mornings, but i am new to this situation, and i stand corrected constantly for just being too easy on them. i let them go to their lockers; i let them come and go perhaps too freely. this was a sticking point for me when i was in school - people telling you where and when you could move, people putting you in one seat and keeping you there, etc. i never liked it and always felt that i learned in spite of it. now, i'm feeling that if i don't assert more control, i'll lose everything.

it's back in high school for me. i'm sixty-four, and hanging around a big old building that seems remarkably similar to the one i occupied at the ages of 16-18. does one get past this? i'm sure i will, eventually.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

sleep study

A bed in an institution – I am here in bed, with wires coming out of me in every direction. Some are colored wires. They measure my brain, my heart, my sleeping, everything. Somebody is watching, very closely.

The room has a fan – this is comforting. So are two pictures of tropical beaches – the idyllic life, which I know so little of, but which beckons to me from the picture. White sand, turquoise sea, young healthy palms, sun and breeze – somebody, here, is enjoying a good life, though I don’t see anyone in the pictures.

No thanks to the television – sometimes, I’m in a motel, and I’ll turn one on, but, in my ordinary life, I shun them, and they sometimes actually disturb me. I’ll watch the news or something, and it’ll make me upset. In this case, I wonder if the machines would pick up my blood boiling.

The sleep study place is actually in the town where I work, 13 miles down the hill from where I live. The altitude is quite different – we are at about 3400 here, but I live at 8700. The nurse says, yes, it is an issue, and you might want a sleep study done up in the mountains, closer to the elevation you’re used to. Up there, we sleep with the windows open, from May until about September, and it’s rained a lot, if that has anything to do with anything. Down here, it’s the desert – the hot, intense sun beats every day – and I’m surprised that it’s so pleasant at night. I was used to this place as always being sun-baked.

I’m ready to sleep already. If they can tell me how I snore, how I sleep, what happens, I’m all for it. I’ll wear one of those masks at night – I’ll do what they advise me. If it makes me sleep better, I’m in.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

summer's about shot; i did the school supplies, and my wife is about to go out and do clothes shopping with the girls, which is probably the most difficult part. as i look around the world has got messier over the summer instead of more orderly; i am less ready for a new year. piles of dirt remain up at the gate, that i have to bring down to insulate the water pipes that broke over the winter; in short, there was a huge mess here, and there are still piles of rocks and dirt around. i was supposed to rake pine needles to keep down a fire hazard, and got about one little square done. out at our land it's the worst, though rain has made some grass pop up here and there and make it look like a green, bucolic paradise.

one good thing, and that is that i sit down to type this, and the puppy finds me right away and parks in my lap, between my two stretched out legs, and takes a puppy-nap in such a way that i can pet him as i write. we have spent much of the summer like this. i have played a lot of web boggle, and scrolled facebook, widening my horizons so that i now know more about the low-life of las cruces, for example, or the socorro democrats. reason i'm interested is political - if we were to get a lot of people out to vote, this district would flip to blue. and it would make a huge difference. but for me, it was a side diversion. i push against my writing - try to do two or three hours a day - and it just doesn't come that easily. i have to have a lot of different things going, so i don't end up down in the bog, just killing time.

one of the saving graces is that it's rained a lot here. down in texas, down in the valley (las cruces and alamo), it has not only not rained, but it's been hot - over a hundred, even over a hundred five. up here, we seem to stay in the seventies, and get an occasional shower, or even thunderstorm. the green stuff grows. we know this could be trouble for the fire people later, but, we like to see the green stuff grow. it makes the hillsides smell better. it gives the bear and the elk some cover.

tried to finish several big projects, and failed. one, the leverett book, about the puritans of early massachusetts - it's almost done. two - my autobiography, just passing through - it, too, is almost done, except that my life changes so dramatically with every turn, that i feel like starting over. and finally, my texas novel - which is called, so far, the turn and the river - and which, truth be told, was only about fifty pages done, and is now maybe a hundred. it has a ways to go, i guess, but, for a while, stalled on the other two, i was into it. i did finish the haiku and a book of stories earlier in the summer. i did get two different books of stories, the most recent, free range flash fiction, and a much earlier one, pile of leaves, put up on acx where they will now be audio produced and we should be able to see that in a couple of days or soon.

but what put a dent in the summer like the elk put a dent in my truck door, was a stepdaughter stopping by for a couple of weeks with a couple of young children, six and three, who fit right under my four in this tiny cabin making a lot of noise, getting up early, having demands, in short, being precious. what can you do? take them to the park, is the obvious answer. but we took them to the white sands as well, and their aunts and uncles did their best to entertain them to the fullest.

so, not a bad summer, really...tomorrow, an interview for a seventh-grade english position. this would change my life dramatically. but, if it should happen, i'll keep you posted. in the annals of public education, i suppose much can be said about such things, and i will definitely be in the front line.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

my new promo campaign:

Monday, July 16, 2018

took a little break from other writing to do quaker plays. one, finish a herbert hoover play that i had mostly written a long time ago. it gave me a little mental boost to take an almost-finished play, put a wrap on it, and get it out there, published. when i put it on the weblog itself i technically publish it, and it's the first of several that i plan for a new volume of quaker plays, but since i've been working on another one as well, i now feel like i have a good start in this new volume.

the thing about these two is that both hoover and roosevelt-era anti-semitism have a lot in common with what's going on today, so i can stop obsessing about trump and just write about the people who tried and failed to do what he does, and make them a visible demonstration of the consequences of stupidity. hoover, for example, passed tariffs that crippled the economy and led to a deep depression; he also had this quality that, while he tried to present confidence in business and wall street, he had no credibility, so people didn't simply start hiring people and pulling the country out of the depression. finally, he was totally unable to project that quality of caring about people, so that even though he had experienced hunger and deprivation, he couldn't seem to make people know that.

in the roosevelt-era one, i'm somewhat stalled, but it deals with american anti-semitism during the beginning of the war, specifically 1939, when the m.s. saint louis was afloat off the coast of miami and nine hundred jews begged to be let in to this country. these were not people who were likely to become criminals ("rapists," as trump called the mexican immigrants), or live on american social entitlements. nevertheless the usa did not want them, and they ended up going back to europe where in some cases hitler got them. one lesson was that one never knows how quickly a bad situation can degenerate into a worse one, where victims can simply become "the enemy" in a war, or where a cold shoulder to someone in need can actually be sending someone off to their death.

my anger with trump and the people who support him at all costs, no matter his groveling to putin, no matter his record of sexual abuse and paying off its victims, no matter his blatant lying and selling out of american interests and resources - has led me to become a voter registration fanatic. at night, when the last of the kids' yelling is still getting to me and i'm wondering if i can still get anything done at all, i've taken to cruising the social media looking for the people i think would be crucial in turning our district around. all of southern new mexico is one district, a quite large one, with a single big city, las cruces, in it, but even las cruces has about a hundred thou, and pretty much everyone else is spread out over hundreds of smaller towns, and miles and miles of ranchlands, deserts and mountains. it's a very conservative district, but like many conservative districts, it actually has a chance of turning, this november, as the usual congressman is gone, moved on to the governor's race, and his replacement is virtually unknown. the democratic challenger, xochitl small-torres, is virtually unknown too. my view is that the one who registers hundreds of new voters is the one who has a chance of pulling off a surprise. i intend to be involved in that process.

political organizing (my get-out-the-vote page is completely social-media only) is difficult. but it's better than sitting around getting angry.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

i go back to my research, on the leverett family in the early puritan days, and it's full of surprises; it never stops surprising me. i'll give you a couple of different examples. both are related to rainsborough.

the governor, governor leverett, who i am allegedly related to, was an interesting guy; he'd taken the ship over here at the age of 17, got married and started trading and doing business, and he joined the artillery, where the old soldiers hung out and talked about life in puritan massachusetts. but at one point this guy, isaac, comes around, and says, we need soldiers back in england, to overthrow the king. the king is a pompous bastard; a blatant liar, things he's a god, wastes money, raises taxes, drives the place into ruin, and we've had enough, we're taking up arms. isaac stoughton intends to take a group of colonists back to fight in the civil war to overthrow the monarchy, and leverett goes. he is now about 26. a guy named william hudson, and also nehemiah bourne go with them. all four go, and are put in rainsborough's regiment.

now i had kind of lost track of this, so i went back looking for the information about what this regiment did, and what exactly happened. it was only a couple of years of his life, so it kind of got lost in the shuffle, though it made him a war hero. he was a war hero yes, but a war hero on the side of oliver cromwell, who had his own problems as history rolled out. i knew 1) that rainsborough's regiment was pretty much immobile, and stationed in lincolnshire, where leverett was from; it was paid for by lincolnshire, so it didn't sweep the country as the other regiments did; 2) that leverett had his own regiment within rainsborough's larger one, so that hudson was under him; 2) that hudson, upon returning home, found his wife in bed with his servant, and she was almost hung as death was the penalty for adultery. this information by the way was of interest to me because we are investigating what happens when people don't live up to the strict puritan moral codes.

ah but come to find out that rainsborough was a leveler, and so was his brother, so this meant that some radicals, the 1600's version of the socialists, had entered into the war against the crown, for their own reasons, and though cromwell himself might not have been a leveler, rainsborough and his brother and anyone associated with him, by nature, would at least be willing to be associated with the word. double-you tee eff...

and i find out another thing. there is another puritan colony at that time. in other words, massachusetts is one of two. can you guess where that might be? i had never heard of this one. it was in paradise island, off the coast of nicaragua.

back to my research - there is so much to learn!