Archive for the ‘history’ Category

World Peace Day – 45 Years Later

Yeah, it’s been reflection time these past two weeks about a student project from 45 years ago. At the time I was teaching at Baldwin High School on Maui, and I was advisor to the Pacific and Asian Affairs Club. The beginning of my second year, Claudia Otsuka and her twin Dawn came to me with the idea for a World Peace Day that spring. It was my second year on Maui and my second year teaching, so why not? Little did I know how memorable the journey would be. I wrote about it here for the 40th anniversary, with all the news clippings.

In 1972 we were at war in Vietnam, cities were on fire with protests, marginalized groups were trying to speak up and have their voices heard. What bothered me this week – and as a history person, nearly every week – is that nothing has changed. We’re marching for Climate Change tomorrow the 29th. We’re in two wars, and the prospects of getting involved in North Korea scares me. I really thought I was done having to worry about where I lived and what part of the house would be the best place to hold out in case of a nuclear attack.

Minimal technology in this endeavor – mimeo machines, typewriters and carbon paper, phone calls to Washington, DC to our House Representative Sparky Matsunaga who was a keynote speaker…..arranging lodging, going to Honolulu to talk to the legislature about getting an official World Peace Day through the legislature, getting parade permits for our Walk for Peace to raise money for the event – and being consistently called a Communist for protesting for peace. I guess nowadays my label would be “libtard.”

Sparky was the first person, aside from the high school support (which was mild) to believe in what we wanted to accomplish. From the webpage:

So here we are again…..still….searching for that elusive peace……My generation is a transitional one – from starting out believing life would be better for us to wondering in our older years if anything will be left for us. Back to the barricades…..

Lessons Learned…Goals Identified

Unexpected colors – from my coloring book experiments

A load of lessons this year – big, small, in-between – physical, emotional, business, art, political. It’s always interesting to me to reflect on what I’ve learned in times of turmoil.

  1. I will stand up against hate.
  2. Knee surgery is a pain, literally, but necessary. Physical therapy is necessary. I am blessed with a great doctor, fabulous physical therapist, and a hospital that helps with financial assistance.
  3. Losing weight over 60 (…over 40…) is tough, but thanks to The Gabriel Method I might just be able to do it this year. No chocolate in over two weeks, n0 hunger pangs, no snacking – all because of visualization.
  4. Vermont pushes too many pills – finally found an integrative health doctor, rather than getting a prescription for anything that ails me without even looking at symptoms.
  5. Survived major surgery with hubby on his aneurysm repair last winter. Great doctor, learned a huge amount – he’s good to go.
  6. Walking still is my best form of exercise. So glad I can do more walking, much more comfortably, with the new knee.
  7. I like myself a lot more. Been years in the making, learning to deal with what I can’t change in the past.
  8. Still madly in love with hubby of 40 years. We always find something new to talk about.
  9. My mother was a full-blown narcissist, and I lived in fear of her most of my life. I have forgiven her and have moved on. She appears every now and then in dreams, and I find I can tell her off when she shows up – something I couldn’t do in real life. I’m moving on.
  10. I need to plan for art business this year. We had a great year last year, and my goal for this year is to sell a lot more art and make some good money.
  11. Newsletter each month for the marbling, more teaching opportunities, retirement sale of older works.
  12. Continue taking online classes for the pure enjoyment/learning something new. Work on color sense.
  13. I wrote a teaching manual – all 35,000 words – essentially in five months. It’s a template for teacher manuals, as it works with standards and ways of integrating new curriculum ideas for teachers. Thinking about a mathematics manual for algebra.
  14. I WILL publish my political novel this year. I am planning a Kickstarter campaign – or something similar. I have to do it in the light of current politics, and I need to get back to book 2.
  15. Made a lot of art last year. I want to make even more art this year, including a couple of large pieces. I’m keeping track of the process of taking my Pele piece apart and modernizing it with my new skills in free motion quilting.
  16. Three years ago I realized I only had 200 more b;og posts to do to hit 1000. Then I seemed to take long breaks from blogging. I’m still trying to hit 1000 – 920 and counting…I should be able to get 80 posts done this year……(PS – 921…)
  17. Politically it’s been a very difficult year for me. As a history/political science major I see trends before they are trends. I’ve been worried the last two years. It is time this year to write, speak out, demonstrate, listen, reach out.
  18. Be kind and listen, regardless of your own opinion. All of us need kindness and understanding.
  19. I will be out in nature more, travel more, worry less about finances.
  20. I will stand up against hate.

Summer Adventures

In May, as spring was in full bloom, we headed south to visit Crown Point and its new bridge. We had watched the video a bunch of years ago about the destruction of the old bridge, and now we had a brand new one. Most of Crown Point hubby hadn’t seen for years, and I hadn’t been to the fort and the lighthouse. The colonies had both British and French forts at this location, active during the French and Indian War – nicely done job on a small museum.

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Light house at Crown Point, NY

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Samuel Champlain

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New York side, looking toward Adirondacks

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Shoreline on NY side

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The new bridge – you can walk across

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Baking bread

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The End of the War

With all the traveling, I missed a significant anniversary – the end of World War 2 in Europe. As a history person, I read up on lots of events, and for this I found an absolutely incredible video showing the human cost of war. I consider this a “must watch,” especially for those of us who advocate for peace.

This Video Illustration Showing the Scale of Human Loss From World War II Is Devastating

Other posts on World War II:

D-Day – Operation Overlord

Remembrance – Every Year

Memorial Monday

World Peace Day

Coexist

 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Some heroes you might not know about……..in honor of this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day – click on the articles to read the whole piece.

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East of the Mississippi!

Yet another gorgeous day! We were so worried about all the rain and tornadoes, but I’m thinking we’ve brought the good weather with us! We left Des Moines, gorgeous morning, and finally crossed the Mississippi. There is something mythic about this mighty river and it’s division of the country. Every time we cross the Continental Divide, I think about the water that flows to the Mississippi. And the gateway to the westward movement, with all its pros and cons. And Mark Twain, whose many books I have read. I always feel like I am entering or leaving a different country. The day was quiet, and very relaxing…Iowa is certainly “heartland.”

Illinois just seemed soft and green, lots of farms, not nearly the amount of sprinkle systems that we saw in Nebraska. It is SO NICE to see rivers with water in them! And I must say, Iowa has some of the nicest roadside stops!

We traveled through Illinois, past Regan’s  birthplace, into Wisconsin, and finally to Milwaukee. We weren’t  sure we’d head this far north, but I have always wanted to visit this city. Tomorrow we are doing a boat cruise around the lake and river.

Here’s a few shots from today.

A whole rest area devoted to quilting!

A whole rest area devoted to quilting!

Iowa rest area - patchwork. locks

Iowa rest area – patchwork. locks

Even the brickwork.....

Even the brickwork…..

The little picnic areas are identified by patchwork.

The little picnic areas are identified by patchwork.

We noticed in Illinois that the mile markers were in fractions…one-quart, half, and three-quarter.  Very cool…I’d like to know why….in Wisconsin the markers were in two-tenths….also cool!

Mile markers!

Mile markers!

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Tomorrow on the water!

Top Ten Tuesday

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Well, it’s only taken about three months to get back to the blog, but I have been saving some great stuff, mostly pretty light-hearted. Here goes:

The Atlantic has a great series on photos from World War Two. Here’s a peak at women during the war, of all races and ethnicities.

Women at War

Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) pose at Camp Shanks, New York, before leaving from New York Port of Embarkation on Feb. 2, 1945. The women are with the first contingent of Black American WACs to go overseas for the war effort From left to right are, kneeling: Pvt. Rose Stone; Pvt. Virginia Blake; and Pfc. Marie B. Gillisspie. Second row: Pvt. Genevieve Marshall; T/5 Fanny L. Talbert; and Cpl. Callie K. Smith. Third row: Pvt. Gladys Schuster Carter; T/4 Evelyn C. Martin; and Pfc. Theodora Palmer. (AP Photo)

From The Smithsonian, a look at the role of artists during World War Two.

Artists in World War Two

Artists in World War Two

TimeLapse from Time Magazine and Google presents a look at various places around the planet and how they have changed. Check out what is happening to our planet.

TIME and Space | By Jeffrey Kluger

Spacecraft and telescopes are not built by people interested in what’s going on at home. Rockets fly in one direction: up. Telescopes point in one direction: out. Of all the cosmic bodies studied in the long history of astronomy and space travel, the one that got the least attention was the one that ought to matter most to us—Earth.

That changed when NASA created the Landsat program, a series of satellites that would perpetually orbit our planet, looking not out but down. Surveillance spacecraft had done that before, of course, but they paid attention only to military or tactical sites. Landsat was a notable exception, built not for spycraft but for public monitoring of how the human species was altering the surface of the planet. Two generations, eight satellites and millions of pictures later, the space agency, along with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has accumulated a stunning catalog of images that, when riffled through and stitched together, create a high-definition slide show of our rapidly changing Earth. TIME is proud to host the public unveiling of these images from orbit, which for the first time date all the way back to 1984.

From AllMyFaves comes a new look at piano lessons – could be intriguing! Looks to be an interesting app….

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Really cool video from Vimeo on reactions from astronauts on their trips into space.

You know I love flashmobs – here’s a cool new one! Rembrant – who knew?

I’d forgotten about saving this next one – Anderson Cooper Show doing a take-off an America’s Got Talent – the Speed Painter. Well worth your two minutes!

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 The Shanghai World Expo Closing Ceremony…..amazing colors, graphics, movement…..those “chairs” aren’t really chairs……

Wonderful act from Vegas!

And finally, from Tastefully Offensive, comes People vs. Winter….since in some places in this country winter hasn’t left……

Thoughts from Robert Genn – the Stendhal Syndrome

I am a subscriber to Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly Letter, and this one really said something to me. The Stendhal Effect is described as “the condition of being dangerously overwhelmed by beauty in either art or nature.” I thought it was just me having heart palpitations in a great quilt store. I can walk out of a gallery energized by the amazing glass – or paintings – or woodwork – or fiber. A great quilt show leaves me breathless. A Monet exhibit has my heart rate decrease to a pleasant sense of peace. A visit to the Getty Museum leaves me so excited and overwhelmed I can calm down till way past my bedtime. And yes, great quilt stores give me heart palpitations.

So it turns out there is an actual, identified condition, called the Stendhal Syndrome. It was “first described in 1979 by the Italian psychiatrist, Gaziella Magherini, after studying more than 100 cases among visitors to the Uffizi in Florence. A concentration of particularly beautiful art can cause rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations.” What angers me is that with the decline of the arts in the schools, more and more students will never experience this. What I also find interesting is a related condition that strikes me at historical landmarks. I first realized it when I walked the Gettysburg Battlefield in the summer of 1974. I was overwhelmed with the place – I looked around, listened to the wind, and imagined all the soldiers fighting those three days. This happens whenever I visit something of historical significance. Standing in Fanueil Hall in Boston where Adams and other early leaders of the American Revolution stood kept me transfixed for nearly half an hour. Antietam – imaging the streams running red and soldiers staring as I walked. Sitting in a small room on the third floor of the American History Museum of the Smithsonian, watching three hours of newsreels from World War II because I couldn’t tear myself away. Watching the oil seep to the surface while standing on the Pearl Harbor Memorial, and wiping away tears, standing on the rocks by Lindbergh’s grave on Maui, and standing on the great Wall of China, staring off toward Mongolia.

Nature will also always do this to me. Looking up at a redwood until my neck gives out, the Grand Canyon, Point Loma, Fisherman’s Wharf, the mountains of Guilin, the Oregon Coast – there are so many places where I can just stand and stare and cry, it is just so beautiful. So art, nature, or that historical moment can overwhelm me so. I wish that for so many more people.

Thoughts on Themes in History

I’m working with my college student on preparing for a history exam coming up on Monday, from World War I through World War II. That’s a lot of ground to cover. My student was complaining about how boring the class lectures were.

Sheesh. When are history professors and teachers going to learn that history is a “story,” and as such can be absolutely fascinating. It’s probably a good thing I was never good at lecturing when I first started teaching, because I approached all history lessons thematically: what did we learn from the past. Even today I am astonished at how much I still learn through well-researched historical fiction. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long while.

First case in point: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, the second in a trilogy of the Civil War. This book focuses on the Battle of Gettysburg, and Shaara writes from hours of research of letters and diaries. I will never look at Gettysburg the same way again. This three days in July could have been avoided, could have changed the course of this country. It is a truly powerful story.

“He went back along the low stone wall. The dead were mostly covered now with blankets and shelter halves, but some of them were still dying and there were groups of men clustered here and there. There were dead bodies and wounded bodies all down the wall and all down through the trees and blood was streaked on the trees and rocks and rich wet wood splinters were everywhere. He patted shoulders, noted faces. It was very quiet and dark down among the trees. Night was coming. He began to feel tired. He went on talking. A boy was dying. He had made a good fight and he wanted to be promoted before he died and Chamberlain promoted him. He spoke to a man who had been clubbed over the head with a musket and who could not seem to say what he wanted to say, and another man who was crying because both of the Merrill boys were dead, both brothers, and he would be the one who would have to tell their mother.” (p. 232)

Jeff Shaara, the son, has also written a very power set of books about the American Revolution. Here’s his description of the reading of The Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress, from Rise to Rebellion.

“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…'”

“The words reached out to each of them, the delegates, those above in the public seats, out beyond the walls of this one simple building. The words were carried by rider and post, copies posted in every town square, in every courthouse, every state house, every assembly hall. Like a great stone dropped into a vast deep pond, the impact of the Declaration of Independence would flow out in waves that would reach far beyond the colonies, far beyond the people who had brought it to life. The words would spread beyond the great ocean, would reach the halls and stout buildings of a government that would still not understand, would still pretend to own the spirit of these unruly people, would insist that crushing that spirit mean crushing the people and whatever sham of an army these outrageous rebels would dare to mount.” (p. 528-529)

I’m reading The Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, about the years prior to and after World War 1. Again, extremely well researched and based in fact. World War I was an exercise in incompetence. When you begin to read about the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia, and you see how everything came to a head in war because one or two men in charge would not compromise at all, it is eye-opening. Very much looking froward to the second book in the trilogy.

“Fifty thousand casualties, of which twenty thousand are dead,” Da went on. “And the battle goes on. Day after day, more young men are being massacred.” There were sounds of dissent from the crowd, but they were mostly drowned out by the shouts of agreement. Da held up his hand for quiet. “I do not say who is to blame. I say only this. Such slaughter cannot be right when men have been denied a part of the decision to go to war.” (p. 517-518)

And finally, from today’s history chapter on causes of the Great Depression, frightening in its accuracy:

“In addition to irresponsible speculation, income disparities and rampant use of credit also destabilized the economy. The income of the wealthiest one percent of Americans doubled, while the income of the bottom third only rose 6 percent. Income tax cuts returned money to the wealthy but did little for the middle class or the poor. While rich Americans could keep on buying washing machines, refrigerators, radios and cars, the bottom two-thirds found themselves stretched to the limit. By 1929 American factories, like farmers, were guilty of over-production. Manufacturers cut prices and then reduced their output. They laid off workers, who in turn cut back on their purchases. Borrowers stopped paying their consumer loans, leaving banks and stores with millions in bad debt.” (p. 871-872)

When you read those words, how can you find history boring? Can’t you see the direct connections? Why not a discussion that has to be fact-based to involve every student? If we continue to relegate the teaching (or reading ) of history to a minor subject that is considered boring by most students, when will we ever understand how we have gotten to where we are?

Sheesh.

 

 

 

Thursday Thoughts – “Truth”

I’ve been bookmarking lots of articles lately, except not the ones having anything to do with the science of tutoring, which is what I should be looking for….but these have been articles that are causing me to think. A lot of these fall into the category of WTF….but I will say I am trying to be more circumspect in evaluating my information. My liberal bent won’t go away, but I do want to be more cognizant of “truth” and how it’s presented to us these days.

This first is from the Huff Post, and it is about obscenity – in a most unusual place. It seems there was a hearing in Washington on the House Committee on Natural Resources. The woman presenting is a coal field activist and concerned about the availability of clean water to families in the area. She had a photo to share of a naked child playing in filthy water, full of pollutants and poisons.

“…well water is the only source of water most coalfield residents have, people who live far from any municipal water supply. In most of these communities, city water just isn’t an option, and buying containers of drinking water is expensive. As a result, for so many people, this is the water they drink, the water they bathe in, the water they use to live. Human beings require a lot of water, and while you can distill and filter it, this is still the water you’re stuck with, the water that comes out of the ground. When that water gets poisoned, that’s the water you put in your body.” (From the Huff Post).

The picture shown was of a child (with the parents’ permission to show the photo) bathing in this polluted water. At which point the Capitol police took the woman aside to question her about child pornography.

Okay. This whole issue is not about pictures of naked children. It’s about a picture of the living conditions in an area severely polluted. At no point was this even debated. Now the liberal part of me is outraged. I immediately want to blame coal money  having a hold on what gets brought up for discussion in the House. And the liberal part of me should stay outraged that we have these kinds of living conditions for families in the 21st century in this country. That’s the outrage that should be heard, not changing the tenor of the committee hearing to idenitfying whether something is pornographic.

So what is the “truth” here? That’s where I am trying to wrap my head around some of the articles that we are seeing. Yes, the Capitol police released the woman, saying there were no grounds for pornography. So what happened to the debate in the committee? Who were the Senators? How much money have they (regardless of party) received from coal mining interests? What was the overarching purpose for this committee hearing? These are questions that should all be answered. We can’t determine “truth” without far more information.

This next article is from Trouthout, “Don’t Thank Me for My Service.” Wow, very different. A veteran talks about his guilt at serving in the military, and being thanked for the killing skills he learned. Here’s an excerpt:

“So, when you thank me for my service, it disturbs me … a lot. First off, it brings to mind my wasted youth and lost innocence, and the horrible and unnecessary deaths of good friends and comrades. Second, it reminds me of my responsibility and culpability for the pain and suffering I caused innocent people, again something I would rather forget, but cannot. Third, it reinforces my belief that you have absolutely no idea about the nature and reality of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, because if you did, you would understand that thanks are inappropriate. Fourth, it reminds me that many of those who feel the need to offer thanks were apathetic about – or even supportive of – the war, while they refuse to participate themselves or did little or nothing to end it. And lastly, I have to admit that I doubt the sincerity of these expressions of supposed gratitude, as “Thank you for your service” is just something to say not because you care about what I did or sacrificed, but only to demonstrate your supposed good character, or patriotism and/or “support” for members of the military and veterans.”

Powerful stuff. Those of you who follow me know I fervently believe in peace, and I feel all avenues need to be explored – honestly, rightly, with whatever it takes to listen, before war  or “military action” is declared. Being one who didn’t want us in Iraq or Afghanistan, I worry about all the injured vets coming home, men and women alike, who face a lifetime of flashbacks and rehabilitation. Cutbacks in veteran services make me mad, because these people gave the full measure of their lives and will never be the same because of it. War is fought by young people, sent to war by older folks. Nothing has ever changed.

I find this an interesting “truth.” We are here today because of those who fought in past wars, especially our “Greatest Generation.” But they brought their demons home with them, just like today’s vets. Hitler and Tojo – not much choice for us there. But what about now? There’s nothing on the news to remind us of what’s happening to our men and women. No pictures. I don’t particularly want the living room war of Vietnam, but in the midst of all the crap out of Hollywood and the wealthy, we forget there is an ongoing war. I listened to a military mom in the doctor’s office saying she would vote Republican because Obama didn’t support the troops. How much truth is there in what she believes? One 10-second sound bite doesn’t give us the facts we need to determine why our troops are where they are, how they are being supported, and how they are being led.

What we are sorely lacking in this country now is ANY form of civil discourse, where we can have facts, partisan as they may be, and the chance to investigate and discuss all the issues. This whole issue of “whose truth” is keeping me awake at night. What has happened to the voices of reason and the journalists who do whatever it takes to get the news to us, as unbiased as possible? And what is happening to the teaching of the discipline of history, so that we have the tools to analyze the information we do get? Where are the voices of reason?

Thursday Thoughts

Lots of ramblings through the mind this week, a good chunk on medical care. Last week I checked into possible vision therapy as a result of losing the vision in my left eye. My insurance would not cover any of it, not even out of network, and the treatment is very expensive. So there is no way I can do this. Now I am already paying a lot of money each month on my COBRA, until Medicare kicks in.

Keep in mind I have always felt like I needed to pay my fair share, and I realize I am lucky to have health insurance. But come on, people, we shouldn’t have to feel lucky. We should be able to access what we need without going broke or going in to bankruptcy….and I know whereof I speak. Every person in this country should have access to affordable health care. I don’t think this necessarily means the government needs to be completely involved, but I think the attitude of “medicine for profit” is hurting the average American.

In line with the previous thought, I am making a effort to try and read more “conservative” blogs to try and widen my views on current issues, as well as be sure what I believe is accurate. This has been a challenge, because I seem to see – and feel – a great deal more vitriol on these blogs. Michelle Malkin’s blog has so much sarcasm that it becomes difficult to plow through to find nuggets. And yes, she seems way more sarcastic than Rachel Maddow, who does have her share of sarcasm, but then there is a footnoted nugget to follow.

Notice I am reading women. I think if I want a truer look at “the war on women,” then I need to read women. This is not a conservative or liberal issue. Women’s rights are being attacked.

Which is just another reason why I get so incredibly depressed, thinking about the amount of evil in the world, and it’s no longer just outside our borders…yes, I have managed to stay pretty darn naive all these years, and this global/national/local evil is coming unrelentingly….

Which is why I lament the lack of good history teaching in the schools, that now brings me to….

…my tutoring session this afternoon, where I am helping a college student prepare for a philosophy test….a class I never had. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking up information to help me understand the topic and then help my student understand what could possibly be asked on a test tomorrow. And all this led to a really interesting hour and a half of philosophical questions on topics in history that would illustrate deontology and consequentialism. From Harry Potter to the movie Black Hawk Down to the killing of Bin Laden – quite an interesting 90 minutes.

To tie this to teaching history in schools, how can we have philosophical discussions and look at morality if we don’t understand our own history, what makes us a country, and how we fit with the rest of the planet? That’s a good philosophical question……

I must say, however, that the philosophy book stinks…..no index, the glossary is worthless, and the table of contents leaves much to be desired. When you are working with a student on study skills, being able to access an index to find information is critical. How can a textbook NOT have an index? This is such a basic skill for any of us wanting to access information from a text and not just the internet. Yes, Google is essentially an index, but its algorithms bring up results based on our previous searches. And let’s face it, not everyone uses the internet, especially if they have spent a LOT of money on a class text. I would think for 80 dollars a book should have an index.

Yeah, the mind is all over the place this week…..who knows where I’ll be next Thursday?

In Defense of History

A good friend from Vermont, who winters here every year and has experienced the insanity that is Arizona, asked a couple of days ago…Can you explain so I can understand what it is about this state? Keep in mind this friend’s senator is Bernie Sanders, one of the last voices of reason in this country. Well, those of us who live in Arizona (and remember Bernie fondly) don’t understand it ourselves. The latest bit of insanity is changing the recall process, since the state head republican lost a recall challenge, so let’s change the recall process so only republicans can participate, not ALL the people this person is supposed to represent.

We do not learn anything from what we’ve done in the past. And a new bill in Arizona is aiming to make sure students learn even less. Teachers could be fired for presenting partisan information. Now, to my mind, if you have a teacher who is outright encouraging students to vote for a particular person or party, then that should be an internal issue within the school. A true professional will keep his or her opinion out of the discussion, but require students to look at all candidates, all issues, and help them make informed decisions. This is a very fine line to walk. I can remember several students who had different views and weren’t willing to look at evidence. I had to bite my tongue. My job was to get them to think critically, whether they wanted to or not.

So much of this attitude is not limited any longer to Arizona. You are seeing more and more the results of a lack of history education in this country, along with an extreme lack of critical thinking to determine what is true and what isn’t, within the media. Part is monetary (there’s a shock…) – certain news (like what’s really happening around the world) doesn’t sell. Nothing sensational about it, and nothing that really focuses you to think.

Over the years I’ve chosen other news sources. Recent reports of the differences in Time magazine covers around the world points this out. Americans get sanitized news. When I checked my Google Reader this morning, these were just a few of the headlines from Al-Jazeera (OMG…..Arab papers….can you hear the history police now?):

How much of these will you see or hear about on your local – and national news? As much as I love Whitney Houston’s music, there are other important things happening in the world that we should have an idea about. Depressing? Yes, on so many levels. It is hard to watch the news when you can see historically that we are headed down so many paths that are destructive. But then you also have a responsibility to be informed and to speak up.

I have a feeling if I used Al Jazeera as a source of news to investigate and vet for truth in an Arizona classroom, I would be on my way to jail if this new bill passes. Never thought in my lifetime I would  see restrictions on my freedom of speech.

Some Ramblin’ Thoughts….

Ai, yi, yi….the brain is overflowing with thoughts about all kinds of things in life right now – some artistic, most not. First of all, we are having to move….again……..Since the new neighbors moved in the beginning of December, it has been horrible living under them. Stomping feet at all hours of the day or night, running/barking dog, absolutely no consideration for the people underneath them. Including a domestic dispute complaint one Sunday night that was so loud we had to go and stay in a motel.

So what does management say? There’s nothing they can do….dogs bark, that’s what they do. Dogs run, that’s what they do. It’s their apartment, they can vacuum when they want (including at 3 AM)……management has done nothing. We finally got “doctor’s notes” about the stress and inability to sleep, and we are out of here. Our days of apartment living are done. We drove through one neighborhood about a week ago and saw a “for rent” sign – we’ve never seen anything available in that neighborhood unless it’s the occasional home for sale. This is perfect, meets our three conditions: more space, better light, and a total price not over a set amount. So we’re set to move the 29th…..the same day we just found out that management is replacing carpet in the stairs near us, so we won’t be able to use the stairs for the movers. Between tomorrow and the 28th, we plan to move a lot of boxes and set up things that we can. So it will be a crazy two weeks….but that’s how our lives seem to go.

Why is it we are living in such a culture now of rudeness and incivility? Drivers in Tucson have got to be among the worst in the country. When we went cross-country two years ago, we got out of Arizona and saw none of this – no changing lanes unexpectedly, no creeping along. In fact, east of the Mississippi, it’s like we were in another country. All we are asking for is some peace and quiet to live our lives, do good when we can, and be kind to people we meet. We’ve lived in apartments long enough that we know how to walk with a soft step. Turns out laws – both state and federal – keep apartment managers from taking more action against tenants who create disturbances. Management has to be very careful not to violate any freedoms…like putting people with children – or pets – on bottom floors. That takes away their rights. Well, we’ve been in this complex over a year, perfectly content, until new people move in. And now we are the ones paying the penalty. Well, not when it affects our health.

And now to the news…..oy, so much there. Hearings on contraception, and nary a woman in sight to give her views. A photo of our soldiers with the symbol of the Nazi party. Trying to plead ignorance that they didn’t realize the symbol had other meanings. Well, that’s what comes from not being able to teach American history in any depth. History of any kind has lost ground since NCLB and having to teach to specific tests. And in Arizona, now the state legislature wants to make teaching anything “controversial” grounds for being fired as a teacher. Arizona is more and more the sewer of this country.

The Arizona legislature is debating the availability of guns on college campuses. Yeah, that’s going to help. Which brings me to the latest going round on Facebook and YouTube of this one father’s response to his daughter’s gripe about her parents. He proceeds to verbally rip her a new one, which she probably deserved. But when he takes the gun to the computer….well, I disagree with the message that sends. A brick would have accomplished the same thing.

The Personal Excellence blog has been running a fitness challenge that I have been participating in, in an attempt to ramp up my physiucal activity. It also has coincided with my beginning practice of yoga. I LOVE yoga. Working one-on-one with a trainer us really helping. Now I have to get over this cold so I don’t keep having to screw up my breathing. I have progresses enough in three weeks that I now have some flow patterns that I can do on my own at home. Celes, who runs Personal Excellence, has some great stuff available to peruse.

Check out Fathom Events. Last night we went to the local movie theater and saw a behind-the-scenes tour of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the National Gallery in London. Absolutely amazing, with lots of in-depth analyses and looks at curating this type of exhibit. This is the second event we have been to, and we are looking forward to many more. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom of the Opera plays on February 28. You can believe we’ll be there – great seats, up close and personal, and way cheaper than theater tickets.

Reading a really interesting book, Quiet by Susan Cain, about introverts and extroverts. Explains a lot about me, and it’s very interesting to see that the amount of extrovertism expected in today’s society isn’t necessarily productive. I recommend the book. From the description:

“At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.”

May you have a quiet weekend!!

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Something Different…..A Life Well Lived

I’ve noticed, as I’m now well into my sixties, that a lot of people have aged and died, even though in my mind they are still as I first knew them. Bob Hope will never be the aged comedian at 100. He’s still the amazing Bob Hope who did USO tours in so many wars. Elizabeth Taylor is still Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So when I hear that these icons of mine, these larger-than-life people that I grew up with, are dead, I’m always thinking….they seemed so young.

Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be in his forties to me. In August of 1963 I sat in front of a very grainy television screen and watched his speech. I was fifteen, intensely interested in American history, and just becoming aware of the civil rights movement. To see this man at the reflecting pool give this amazing speech had a profound effect on me. I knew he led the way in so many areas.

So I come across this posting on Facebook (the font of so many interesting items….). “The Lives They Lived.” A pretty innocuous title. What sets this article apart is that these are ordinary people who did extraordinary things in their lives. From the essay by Isabel Wilkerson:

While poring over the Web site Legacy.com to prepare this issue, we noticed a trend. A search of the site’s database — which includes obituaries from more than 750 newspapers across the country — turned up hundreds of obits published in 2011 with one phrase in common.

A single thread appears and reappears, as a headline or an afterthought, in the final words written by the families of more than 300 people who departed this earth in the past year. In each of these obituaries was a phrase that read something like this: “The first black American to . . .” or “The first African-American .”

How noble these individuals. They struggled, each in their own ways, to do something unheard of, to blaze a trail, no matter how small or insignificant it would seem. And what a loss for us all, these individuals who were the first. The first black bus driver, the first black detective, the first black woman…….They allow us to dream of what we and our children might yet do. I am overwhelmed by the loss of these people, whom I never knew – or even knew anything about them.

I am overwhelmed at those who have gone before and blazed trails. Thank you for every little bit you contributed to create a society where we could dream and achieve. And……

….may we continue to blaze those trails, to honor the work you have done to enable us to dream more and achieve more. May we never forget that.

Thursday Thoughts

As I have written over the last month or so, the shootings in Tucson really affected me, especially the fact that we had almost headed over to the Congress on Your Corner but we had a doctor’s appointment instead and decided to do the next one. I wrote here about what it was like for that following week at school, helping kids process the shootings and the hate from the Westboro Baptist Church directed toward our school.

I studied history and political science in college, at the height of the Vietnam War. I was a drug-free hippie who believed in freedom of expression and the peace movement. I loved seeing trends and themes in history, and then when I taught Advanced Placement US History, I kept discovering things I hadn’t known about our country. I followed that up with reading Howard Zinn’s A History of the American People. That is a pretty amazing book. You can follow The Zinn Education Project on Facebook.

Throughout January, into February, and particularly March and April I sank into a real morass of despair, looking at everything going on in this country and the lack of civility in understanding. I “unfriended” some folks who’s attitudes I felt were very destructive. I would listen to the news and start yelling at the television, reminding the screen about all that came before. Needless to say, I accomplished very little….

I have since gotten myself on track with enjoying life through a couple of – what turned out to be major – changes. No more news. I read the headlines each morning from the local paper on line, and I read the headlines from Al Jazeera English, each time amazed at what is going on in the world that we have no idea about in this country.

Stay away from movies that will P*** me off, like Sicko. There is nothing I can do. I understand the situation, and I cope as I can, but there’s no point getting upset.

Stay positive. I am working with the Co-creating Our Reality site, and I am amazed at just how happy and relaxed I am becoming, Of course, retiring from teaching didn’t hurt…..

Create art. I am finally getting back into the creative spirit, and I think as I create more, not only will I feel better, but I will begin to get some of my frustrations out into art work.

Enjoy people. Given my background and being very shy, I tend to stay away from a lot of socializing. That is changing. I am meeting more people, going out with friends more, having people over, and the like. I’m enjoying sitting on the couch in the afternoon with hubby (35 years this Saturday), streaming something from Netflix that we can enjoy together, and not hve to worry about marking papers or doing lesson plans!

Ooooh yeah, I’m gonna love retirement!

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