Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Notes from 12/17/2008

-Funny word with some funny possibilities-Pottycast (podcast)
-Judith Butler

Jesus Ponders NYC

I read this on the way home from New York City, where I was at a Christmas Party for work. I thought it was an interesting thing to read while leaving the snake pit, especially considering that our hotel was within walking distance of Times Square.

"Jesus grew bitter. He turned toward the city. The stores, workshops and taverns had opened; the streets had filled with people. How they ran and shouted, how the sweat poured from their bodies! He heard a fearful bellowing from horses, men, horns and trumpets: the holy city seemed to him a frightful beast, sick, its entrails filled with leprosy, madness and death.

The bellowing in the streets continued to increase, the men to run here and there. What is their hurry? Jesus asked himself. Why are they running, where are they going? He sighed. All, all-to hell!"

Whether he existed at all, I don't know. Regardless, he has been made real in the collective consciousness through stories of his life. I don't consider myself to be in the same situation to make judgement on people as the character we call "Jesus." I did, however, think this was timely.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This is a place I wouldn't have expected to be.

I'm here in Epoch Coffee Shop with Adarsh.  I'm working on Module 6 of my TEFL Online course.  Module 6 is entitled "Teaching the Receptive Skills: Listening and Reading."  

In section 6.2, the TEFL course is telling me why reading is important and how teaching reading can be difficult.  It's funny because I have a degree in Education with a focus in Literacy Development and Education.  I never would have expected that I'd be immersed in something so basic after having studied so deeply the concepts that inform literacy education.  


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Notes from 12/10/08

-Mary Ellen Wilson-first case of criminalized child abuse, 1874, New York
-Ōryōki-is a meditative form of eating that originated in Japan that emphasizes mindfulness awareness practice by abiding to a strict order of precise movements. Translates to "just enough."

Hey Schools, Thanks for Making Me Terrified to Take Risks.

I took shirts to the dry cleaner for the first time in my life today.

As I drove up to what I presumed (correctly, I soon found out) was a 'drive-up' dry cleaner, I saw an advertisement painted on the building that said, "Laundered Shirts w/Hangers, $1.29 each, Limit 3."

This simple sign sent me into near panic; panic predicated on my newness to the process. What the hell do they mean 'w/Hangers?' Do they give me hangers? Do I bring my own hangers? Is this even a damn drive through? Am I an asshole if I just sit in my car and wait for assistance? Because it's cold, shouldn't I just park and take my shirts in?

All of these thoughts, mind you, lasted a total of about 1/2 of a second. Evanescence reciprocates flippancy. By the way, I turned around, went to my house, hung up the dirties, and returned a minute later. As it turns out, as is usually the case in such simple situations, the whole process was quite easy and devoid of embarrassment.

Of course, on the drive to work, I started thinking a lot about where this comes from. Why does my brain even create these worries? Because I don't ever act on these thoughts, will they go away?

My search took me back to being a younger child than I am now, and I started to think about moments of self-consciousness. It became clear that for a time in portions of middle and high school, I, as is likely the norm, became very conscious of myself. That is to say, self-conscious. At times, however, I went a step further. Not only was I conscious of my actions, but I attempted to micromanage these behaviors with the goal of avoiding a social mishap. Of course, as is sometimes the case, even the best micromanagement and diligent planning cannot guard against unforseeable blunders, which end up perpetuating the problem we're trying to address in the first place.

None of this thinking was new. I've since realized how much work it is to be 'on guard' at all times. In an effort not to tarnish one's image, one's image becomes that of a nervous kid. Moving deeper, I began to ask why I was trying so hard to avoid this tarnishing. Eventually, I realized that one large factor might be the school's ability to 'teach-out' risk taking in their students. That is to say, the beauty, possibility, and fun in taking educational risks is not a part of the hidden curriculum of schooling. In fact, given the testing craze these days, taking risks is punishable, eventually, by school closings and firings.

This always has been, perhaps, one of my biggests qualms with the hidden curriculum of schooling. I realized today that it had a great effect on me. It didn't take long before I was expected to do well in school. The work that I did was according to rule, by the book, and was generally accepted as stellar, especially early on. My desire to avoid mistakes permeated my academic life throught the middle years of my schooling. I found myself planning ahead five or six questions in reading or spanish class...meditating on the answer, verifying it over and over, and then, as non-chalantly as possible, raise my hand and volunteer. In this way, I was able to limit my risk. It is quite clear that my avoidance of risky situations permeated my life outside of academics. I was, for a time, very nervous about 'social performance,' so to speak. This stems directly from my avoidance to take risks.

What's the takeaway? The thoughts that went through my head this morning at the cleaners are little more than an annoyance at this point. I don't, as I might have 10 years ago, act on the voice that tells me to know exactly what I'm getting into in hopes that it won't turn out in my favor. I'm lucky enough to have a good family, good communication skills, and varied interests. Otherwise, I might have let this voice of nerves dominate me in my everyday doings.

Beyond me, though, there are kiddos out there in schools who are being systematically and irrepairably damaged. This has little or nothing to do with their classmates, their teachers, their parents. It has to do with the institution of schooling. They are being "taught" at such a young age that risk-taking is inherantly errant and should be avoided. They are not shown with sufficient vigor and repetition examples wherein risk yielded amazing results and perpetuated growth and maturity. They are not asked to think critically about risk, within academics or otherwise, and thus are rendered unable to enter their adult lives with a good sense of damage control. The idea of risk-taking has not been put into an evolutionary context; a context wherein children can see the repercussions of trying out new things. They are not shown the beauty of spontaneity and the unknown, of exploration and dynamism.

If our youth are systematically shielded from all of these things, we will not only be remiss in our academic duties to them. We will be failing them as citizens of this earth and as human beings.

Funny on the way to work...

Last night it snowed. In Austin.

On the way to work today I saw something funny. It was a truck from a company called "Splish Splash Pool Service." Their logo was stupid.

I got stuck behind them at a light and looked in their truck bed. Inside the bed of the truck was their pool service tools. There were brushes, tubes, and vacuums. It was funny to see them laden with ice.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Notes from 12/8/08

-Gloria Trevi-El Ultimo Beso, Nicolas and Maribel
-Gary Bauer

Saturday, December 6, 2008

100th Post



It's like a birthday.

Zen and the Art of Knot Undoing?

I'm preparing to move in a couple of months.  Usually, this would be a little bit early for this awful endeavor, but I'm going out of the country and I have limited storage space available.  Therefore, all the mierda that I've moved around for literally six years will need to be purged.  Today I scanned a huge box full of documents, fliers, email addresses, recipes, notes, mail, etc...

Anyway, one thing I found in a box was a wind chime.  I received it from a friend years ago, and hadn't used it in a while.  Over the last couple moves, I have noticed it but was reluctant to put it up for it had become quite tangled somehow.  It is a feng shui inspired chime, with coins and small bamboo pieces.  In short, it's tangles created quite a problem for unravelling.   

I found as I worked, though, the calming feeling that overcame me.  I had some music on, so I turned that off.  The chime, being so small, felt delicate in my hands.  I realized very early on that brute strength and haste would be the end of it.  How comforting was it eliminate a loop or a knot whose existence was impeding my achievement of unfettered chimes!

As I worked on steadily, slowly, I was rewarded for my patience by freeing one tentacle from the mass.  I knew, at this moment, that victory was mine.  Continuing on, my goal became more and more realistic, and eventually, there was a deluge of extrication.  What a great feeling!

After years of hibernation, the extremities of my chime are free.  Awake and singing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dream-Spring Break Party Camp Island

I was at some sort of combination of summer camp, resort, spring break destination, and athletic facility. I remember people running around. I remember people being drunk. I remember a group of people on a party boat. I never saw that boat. I felt as if I should have been on the boat or at least wanted to be on the boat. At some point, I began packing my bags. I made sure to grab stuff. This stuff I stuffed into my bag. These items included dv tapes and things to put in your gas tank. The stuff you put in your gas tank was priced at 34 dollars and some change. I was nervous putting it in my bag becuase it was so expensive. I asked Billy if he was going to take his gas tank stuff. He said he was going to just put it in his car before we leave. I thought that was a good idea.

There was some activity that people were doing that I felt was really important. I don't know what that was.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Notes from 12/4/2008

-Buzkashi-a traditional Central Asian team sport played on horseback. The steppes' people were skilled riders who could grab a goat or calf from the ground while riding a horse at full gallop. The goal of a player is to grab the carcass of a headless goat or calf and then get it clear of the other players and pitch it across a goal line or into a target circle or vat.
-National Toy Hall of Fame has inducted, amongst others, the cardboard box (2005) and the stick (2008).
-Opportunity NYC-cash incentive program designed to get kids to pass
"The World Bank considers that "Conditional cash transfers provide money directly to poor families via a “social contract” with the beneficiaries – for example, sending children to school regularly or bringing them to health centers. For extremely poor families, cash provides emergency assistance, while the conditionalities promote longer-term investments in human capital."
-Oportunidades is a government social assistance program in Mexico founded in 2002, based on a previous program called Progresa, created in 1997. It is designed to target poverty by providing cash payments to families in exchange for regular school attendance, health clinic visits, and nutritional support. Oportunidades is credited with decreasing poverty and improving health and educational attainment in regions in which it has been deployed. As of 2006, around one-quarter of Mexico's population participates in Oportunidades.
-Key features of Oportunidades include:
--Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) - To encourage co-responsibility, receipt of aid is dependent on family compliance with program requirements, such as ensuring children attend school and family members receive preventative health care.
--"Rights holders" - Program recipients are mothers, the caregiver directly responsible for children and family health decisions.
--Cash payments are made from the government directly to families to decrease overhead and corruption.
--A system of evaluation and statistical controls to ensure effectiveness.
--Rigorous selection of recipients based on geographical and socioeconomic factors
--Program requirements target measures considered most likely to lift families out of poverty, focusing on health, nutrition and children's education.
-Miguel Caballero bulletproof clothing

Veggie Stuff

-Link to the 12th International Vegan Festival in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, July 22-25 2009
-Donald Watson-inventor of the term "vegan"
-Other possible terms were "benevore," "vitan," "dairyno"
-Isinglass is a substance obtained from the swimbladders of fish...used to filter booze. (guinness)
-Union Vegetariano Latino America - JOIN MAIL LIST...get involved


"As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together." Isaac Bashevis Singer

"Drinking cow milk has been linked to iron-deficiency anemia in infants and children; it has been named as the cause of cramps and diarrhea in much of the World's population and the cause of multiple forms of allergies as well. " Dr. Frank Oski, former Director of the Johns Hopkins University Dept. of Pediatrics

"I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race in its gradual improvement to leave off eating animals." Henry David Thoreau

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral." Leo Tolstoy

"Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends." George Bernard Shaw

"Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you any more." Franz Kafka, while admiring fish in an aquarium

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated... I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." Mahatma Gandhi

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Albert Einstein

"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." Leonardo Da Vinci

Dream - Bar Sleepover

I had a dream that we were in a bar. There were lots of us. We were there for some reason. Something like a sporting event. It started to get late. I remember looking for a clock and seeing 141 with some letters. I took this to be 1:41 AM, though I still wasn't sure. That meant, at least in the 'real world,' that the bar would close in 19 short minutes.

I remember deciding to order whiskey shots for myself, Bill, Nick. When they got to the bar, they both said they didn't want whiskey. They chose beers. I was upset. I think I called them babies or something else thickheaded. Soon, the bar was very dark, and I kind of knew that it was quite late. Maybe 4 or something.

I sat down at a table with some dudes. Three of them had what appeared to be black leather jackets and menacing hats on. I was the fourth one at their table. I think there were dominoes on the table.

Before long, I woke up in the bar. It was still dark, and everybody had slept over. Some of the couches, which I hadn't noticed before, had rolled out as trundlebeds. There were human men and human women smushed into the beds like sardines. Everybody seemed like good friends. In fact, I remember saying so someone earlier that everybody in the bar knew one another and were friends, although there were different factions of them.

We left the bar in the morning. When we were walking outside, presumably to our cars, I saw a friend of mine, Andrew, walking with some people in the perpindicular direction. My other friend Josh yelled to him in jest that "Cameron [was] on a party barge on the lake." Hearing this, and being Cameron, I lifted my belongings (pillow, blanket, sleepover gear) to cover my face from Andrew's sight.

In the time between alarms, I found myself stuck between dreaming and being awake. During this time, I thought that renting cots and small spaces to sleep near bars was a good idea. As I woke I realized that people would use these for sex alot.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Notes 12/3/2008

-Heterocyclic amines-Research has shown that cooking certain meats at high temperatures creates chemicals that are not present in uncooked meats. A few of these chemicals may increase cancer risk. For example, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are the carcinogenic chemicals formed from the cooking of muscle meats such as beef, pork, fowl, and fish. HCAs form when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react at high cooking temperatures. Researchers have identified 17 different HCAs resulting from the cooking of muscle meats that may pose human cancer risk. (from

Linguistics Fun

Mondegreen-the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony.
Eggcorn-an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect. Characteristic of the eggcorn is that the new phrase makes sense on some level ("old-timers' disease" for "Alzheimer's Disease").
Soramimi kashi-a word used in the Japanese subculture language to describe lyrics of a song that sound like the original in one language, but produce a different meaning when interpreted in another language.
Amphibology or amphiboly-is an ambiguous grammatical structure in a sentence. ("Teenagers shouldn't be allowed to drive. It's getting too dangerous on the streets" or "I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know.")
...all from wikipedia

Dream - Two Jack Nicholsons

I had a dream wherein I was watching an old movie with Jack Nicholson. It was from around the time of Easy Rider, The Last Detail, Five Easy Pieces. Before long, I was in the setting of the movie as a spectator. Jack was drunk and fighting, much like he was in his movies around that time. We were in what appeared to be a parking garage. Jack had a grey sweatshirt on his torso. On his legs he had donned blue jeans. He had a dark blue beenie on his head. It didn't take long to figure out that he was fighting himself. I remember distinctly Jack hauling off on himself, laying a left hook into his doppleganger's gut.

Soon after realizing that he was self-fighting, I became Mr. Nicholson. This meant that I was fighting Jack Nicholson as Jack Nicholson. To kill the chicken you must be the chicken.

Anyway, I don't fight, so that ended right there. Even in a dream, I'm unable to imagine what it is like to be violent. I soon found myself driving, presumably still as Nicholson. I was hammered. I was driving in my backpack. The road was narrow. I kept stuffing beers between my feet to hide them.

I remember looking down at two 12-packs of beer. I recognized the color scheme and the typeface of the brand. However, the brand name had been replaced with something clever. This is probably because of the conversation I had the day before about a shirt I was selling at a resale clothing store. It was a shirt designed to look like a Budweiser beer can. Instead of saying Budsweiser, it said, "Buttweiser," along with other related alterations to the original.

I had an accident because the backpackmobile was unstable. I fell in the grass. While I was trying to get up, I realized how drunk I was. I couldn't remount. My heart told me that cops were coming. I struggled onto the auto - still an unstable backpack - and tooted across the street, falling in the damp grass again. Presumably the police got me. I was already awake.

Jack Nicholson lives a hard life.

Learning Spanish is Inevitable...Think Traffic

I was driving down to San Antonio today to pick up a camera from my parents. On the way, I had an interesting thought.

I was sitting in traffic. I was thinking about my pending move to South America. I made a metaphor. In thinking about living in Ecuador, Bolivia, or wherever I end up, one thing I haven't really considered much is the language difficulty. My spanish is fairly utilitarian, and I've always dreamed of the day upon which my personality, humor, and intelligence will translate in spanish.

I began to think of my options for linguistic opportunities and rigour of communication. That is to say that there is a continuum which represents the gamut of opportunities I'll have down there, spanning from near hermitude to spending my every waking moment speaking and listening to spanish.

Here's where it gets interesting. Even if I chose to spend nearly all of my time in my room, listening to music and podcasts in english, looking at the internet in english, and finding english speakers as comrades, I cannot render my brain impermeable to the effects of spanish. Even with the most self-exclusionary life, I will be moving ahead, either in pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary.

Here's the relation to traffic. My development in spanish is as the car on the road. There are opportunities to advance one's situation in traffic. Should one decide to take such opportunities, one can conceivably make a bad decision as well. Sometimes the traffic will clear, and one's car will have open access to speeds only possible in the mind, for there are scant limitations. Other times, at vritual standstills, the driver will be frustrated, feel overwhelmed, and want to exit the expressway. Ah, but even with these possibilities, there is one least in normal circumstances. One must always be moving forward. The moment in which one decides to back up is the moment in which an accident will occur. Therefore, regardless of the speed at which we're reaching our destination, or rather attempting to approach our destination, for the destination is realistically unreachable, we're constantly approaching. No matter what. There's no reverse on the road to least not til I get back to the states.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Notes from 12/1/2008

-Marvin Sease
-Auger Loizeau
-Comandante Amigo (sobre el Che)

El pueblo está triste
el pueblo te llora
el pueblo está triste
pero no te fuiste Che
Comandante amigo

Comandante Che te mataron
pero en nosotros dejaron
para siempre tu memoria
plasmada en moldes de gloria

Caminando entre valles y montañas
para siempre tu imagen guerrillera
y tu sangre corre ya por nuestras venas
y se agiten los techos bolivianos

-Non-Aligned Movement-an international organization of states considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc...aim is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics...from Wikipedia.