Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year's End Entry

It's the end of the year and unlike most other years I am not feeling the urge to fix me. I am not making any New Year's Day resolutions. I suppose I am on a new journey of self-discovery and love and part of that process is not to look at myself in a light that accentuates my neurosis over my body image.

I will take time to learn about myself since I am once again underemployed. This time I want to take advantage of my new locale--the Arizona desert. I love the proximity of the mountains and the possibility of spiritual growth. I hope to heal my body and spirit so as to engage with the activities I've absented my self from doing and I hope to learn and gain more pleasure from my favorite pursuits--i.e. more reading for pleasure and more writing here on the blog and in other areas. I look forward to surprises and learning new ways to play and strengthen creativity. I already took some steps toward getting in a play room of sorts. James recommended a place in Prescott where I can engage in pottery making and Leslie took me to a place where other craft skills can be explored. I'll want a garden someday soon so I can grow my own produce and flowers.

Write for Peace blog will become increasingly more political as in fact politics leads to the wars of the present as politics led to wars of the past.

My expectations from my children will be much lower; this means I don't need their approval and will not listen any longer to perceptions that are tainted and useless to my human growth. I too will have to keep my unwanted opinions to myself so I guess that'll be my real New Year's resolution.

The weather has been glorious but my energies to enjoy the out of doors are low due to an unwanted cold. However, hope springs eternal even with those of us over 40 something, 50 something, etc.

Tonight I'm off to spend the New Year's Eve with my youngest granddaughter and then I'll be back tomorrow to clear out more of my books from the living room.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Edwards a Front Runner?

It's way too early in the game to pay attention to this story. I mean to take it seriously, but it might be a nice outcome to have a presidential candidate from the 2004 race who may have a chance for the 2008 race. However, Edwards seems to be to kindly to have the tough job of president of the United States of America after the mess created by Bush. If a miracle takes place we might have a smaller mess. Nonetheless, it would take a strong minded, politically astute person to manage whatever Bush leaves behind.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Easy Target

Sometimes the mind boggles with the ignorance of the people claiming to lead our country. Here is a picture of The Shrub posted on Arriana Huffington's Post. In the event that people can't see, the red circle has us focus on the fact that while on a "looking" tour similar to the current "listening" tour, our President has covers over the binoculars. He must have Superman's X-Ray vision in order to see anything with those particular binoculars.

I can't really blame the President for pretending to listen to advice after all he got away with pretending to do his job for six years now and no one scrutinized the little guy. He has no guts deserves no glory--especially for costing the nation the lives of so many young (gullible) gung-ho with no better place to be young men. Okay, I'm off base here. But all of the money spent on killing could have better served our nation with things like education, support of families at risk, care of children many of whom are ill fed and lacking in medical care.

Now we are mired in a war where the consequences of immediate draw down is almost as dire as our presence has been up to now.

With so many previous good men and women working for the good of our nation how on earth did we fall into the hands of this man who seems so nice and kindly but who is stubborn, ill read, lacking in understanding of the diversity in human cultures, beliefs, needs etc. Where does a country come up with a leader like Bush?

I think one of the answers lies in the complacent nature of so many of the elite who never had to work and mingle with people from different strata of society. It is this lack in experience with the common "man" that creates the ease with which to send other people's children to die in countries far from home. It is the lack of experience with the real needs of people that allows this president to spend the nation's riches on war, bullet, and blood without real concern for the minds, bodies, and spirits of the people for whom he is supposed to work. This saddens me because people support war with such callous disregard for the lives of the young men and women in our armed services and the lives of the people whose country we invade, whose lives we disrupt, or take. At the seeming end of this war I am as passionately against it as I was when the threat of war appeared. Why weren't more of us prescient? I wonder.Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Baker and Hamilton

I 'm using Andrew Sullivan's insights this morning as I find myself agreeing with him. However, unlike Mr. Sullivan, I do believe the Baker/Hamilton report's claim that Iran really needs greater stability in the absence of US involvement in the Iraqi quagmire. Perhaps I've been reading too many ambassador-speak papers but I think this report put out yesterday has produced a good guideline for the Bushites to use to get out of the predicaments that they've created. I do hope that someone--perhaps Papa Bush can shake some sense into Jr. I am not as erudite as the writers who make a living reading, studying, the events of the day but my honest assessment is that GHWB needs to make up now for any failings in his rearing of GWB. Now's the time to talk straight talk to a son who has created such a big mess for our once beloved country.

I Told You So

As the title of this entry suggests there are a good number of people who are quiet but could act like the juveniles who started the war. Had they been right and not wrong they'd have said "na na na na" of "I told you so". Al Gore and others who were right and did not want the war are too adult to respond in childish peevish ways but we should think of our citizens who searching for easy right/wrong or good/bad approaches to problems thought that war would be easy. It was and is not. Too many lives are lost never to be recovered and still this most stubborn of presidents refuses to face reality. I doubt that the new (old) findings will move him toward putting an end to the mess he created.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Interview between Blitzer and Jimmy Carter

CNN interview between Blitzer and Carter via Huffington Post I realize that Jimmy Carter is seen as a cerebral humanitarian whose only contribution to our country's history was the capture of USAmericans during the time of the Iranian revolution at the end of the '70s before Reagan came to office. However, I am not one of those for I read of his humanitarian and common sense efforts on behalf of the poor around our country. Habitat for Humanity is a worthy legacy along with his work at monitoring elections around the world and other efforts on behalf of peace. That worthy gentle man has captured my imagination about how we or rather I can continue to do things on behalf of others during my transition from work to retirement. Of course, I really mean from work to a little less work and more volunteering.

I digress from the interview between Blitzer and Carter, however. During the interview, Mr. Carter broke with the unspoken tenet that former presidents do not speak ill of sitting presidents. I am so happy and grateful that he did this, for the poor planning of an unnecessary war has cost our country more than money--it has cost us the lives of the young men and women and division among the citizens. The latter due to the exploitive presentation of information to the country. I fear that Mr. Carter was too kind to the current occupant of the Oval Office. Left to my normal tirades I might have said something really bad about the danger that Bush has wreaked on our country by his stubborn stupidity.

Fire Sale in France

Even in France that bastion of liberality for its citizens has succumbed to the need to selling its historic past in order to meet its current obligations. Will GWB's engagement in war lead us to do the same?

Actually, I am a bit saddened to see that one of my favorite European countries has to resort to selling its historical past or rather elements of it in order to stay out of debt. I feel that our country may soon follow suit, especially with people allowing our government to spend, spend, spend with nary a thought to the future. I'm giving my country a Christmas present: I'm not going to spend beyond my meager means for Christmas. I read somewhere that USAmericans are notoriously bad at the habit of savings. I am one of those citizens and now as I enter the "golden" years I find myself like so many others in need of working in my old age. Well, from now on this ole gal is going to save and do her best for her country to get out of debt.

Merry Holidays.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Clearing Clutter and Dreaming

Okay this should probably go on my other blog because of the topic. I am in the process of seeing for myself how much junk I truly have--yet so much of it is precious to me. Do other people have this problem? I suppose they do. However the move to a smaller place has forced me to see the need to give away many of the unneeded clothes, books, and other odds n ends. So far I've unpacked many of the moving boxes and left several boxes to hold some of the recycle materials.

When it comes to book, I'm the only one in my family in total love with them. I read most of the ones I have so there aren't many left with which I don't have at least a nodding acquaintanceship. I especially enjoy the biographies, political position books and of course my lovely mysteries.

In addition to those books already mentioned tipping through and engaging with theorists has elevated my thinking on things.

I think I'll wind up giving more clothes and teaching books away than the others. During the move Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism took quite a beating so now he's being handled with greater care. I can't find The Second Sex by Beauvoir and others.

Such is the plight of attempting to unclutter a large move.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Other Politically Incorrect Word

Reading many entries to our discussions on the RFP listserv, we have been as split on the "I" word as it appears the politicians in DC and across the grassroots organizations that led them to win the last election. So it appears that another movement must take place--to get the congress to do its work while developing a decent, moral, and peaceful agenda.

I do hope that all members of congress take a look at the new movie Bobby to remember what true leaders looked like in the 60s. I don't know if I can sit through the entire film again but it could possibly do what Stone, Estevez, Grier, and Belefonte claim: reset the moral compass of our nation and return hope to its people. One review for future commentary.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving a Copy from my Write for Peace Blog

In order to combat that dark disease that troubles my life almost daily--but less so now that I'm back West, I thought it only fitting on Thanksgiving Day to find things for which to give thanks.

I'm thankful for life, work, and family. I'm thankful for the importance I and other members of my family are to one another. I'm thankful for my ancestors whose lives led the way; I'm thankful that I can still be pleasant when I talk to my grandson, newly enlisted and trained in the Army National Guard for Arizona, that we don't raise our voices in opposite camps concerning the war.

I'm thankful to accept the offerings of family even when they've no clue of the value of reading and ideas and how much I love them. I'm thankful for being able to truly help my students even when I'm not at my best. I'm thankful for my students for they lift my soul when it wants to droop and flounder.

I'm thankful for learning to handle my own problems as I once did. I'm glad to be alive and thankful that others seem to be thankful for my life.

I"m thankful for my love of learning and politics and life.
I'm thankful for the hundreds of people whose writings keep me alert and laughing if not screaming.

Luisa

From Ariana Huffington

Friday, November 10, 2006

Finding Objects of Mutual Hate: Do Israelis and Palestinians Have a Common Ground?

Quite accidentally I found a story that gave me the idea of how to work for peace: find areas all parties can hate equally. The Seattle Times provides the story. Okay I am being ironic but it seems that "enemies" can unite under an umbrella of hatred if they have the same target to hate. As witnessed in the Seattle Times story out of Israel, one bigotry against gays, lesbians, and transvestites can lead to the unification of Israelis and Palestinians. I can almost hear some less humane people say--hey I may hate you to death but there are worse people than you--those g-d sodomites. Yes, those abominations can surely get us to tolerate one another.

As I indicate above, I am being facetious, but it really is sad to consider that hate can unite enemies for a day or two against a third group. Don't people think of the fact that treating other human beings as objects of hate will never really solve any problems? I guess not and so I close this in hopes that some people will stop and think before hating anyone or anything.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Post Post Election of 2006

I have been listening to the election results for the past two days. Now I really shouldn't be a cynic but it's hard not to be one. Democrats are patting one another on the back as if they've already done something fantastic. They haven't at least not yet. The real reason to celebrate will exist after they actually do something to make this country better. Lots of name calling must cease as well as the self-serving hypocrisy of not being straight talkers with the public. No more parsing of words to hide meaning, no more spending public funds on personal enrichment projects, and no more breaking the promises to end the war. Most of the news reports indicate that most of us want the troops home, politicians to earn the high salaries they give themselves, and changes in the economy that the middle class can benefit from. Of course, it would be fantastic if poor and working classes had some economic benefits. Our children sent to fight overseas must come home but we must provide strong educational and economic--jobs for them to go to.

Too many young men and women have lost limbs and lives for politicians' incompetence. While most of the folks talking in the past two days indicate working with the president to "fix" the problems with the running of the Iraq war, I fear there will be too many behind the scenes moves to prevent any real progress to get our troops safely home.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dia de los Muertos

Today is el dia de los muertos. The day to remember those members of our families who have passed on to another realm.

In New York, my mother did not set up an altar for fear of creating a fire with the many candles she lit for her ancestors. Instead she would place the lit candles in the bathtub of our small bathrooms. She prayed in other rooms of the house but had her candles lit for her grandparents, aunts, cousins, and two brothers whom she loved and missed.

I've followed somewhat in Mom's footsteps by having small alters on the sewing machine or the tops of bookcases. In that way, the candles and Virgin Mary statues can be where I am.

I Get Another Language Lesson Reinforcement

Randy sent an interesting commentary from a CNBC commentator I had thought of as rather conservative. To my delight, I found the article from Crooks & Liars quite enlightening or rather a reinforcement of my studies of language use and misuse.

During this election cycle too many old and now transparent ploys of the current White House machine are out in full force. So it's as Orwell wrote Peace is War or War is Peace. If Kerry jokes about Bush's ignorance he must be putting down the intelligence of the troops. Yet there are many things that the Bush administration seemed to miss--Kerry's comment was about Bush's life and Bush's lack of intelligence. Kerry points to a fact of life for many members of the US military--not having the skills for a job or the money to go to college, the military is the only place where they (the young recruits) can get a hand with education. It is a shame that a lack of exposure to the power of language and the need to read beyond the surface leads many in the military to be too easily stirred up by Bushites who want to cling to power at any price. Once again too many of these young people become pawns by their commander-in-chief.

Monday, October 23, 2006

High Test Gambit

Recently, in a Washington Post article on Assessments I found various points which had been the subject of writing teachers' concerns along with students' concerns on the devaluation of education via the intense focus on taking a test that amounts to a pass and you graduate don't pass and you do not get a high school diploma.

The pugnacious attitudes displayed by supporters of these high stakes test demonstrates a lack of understanding or the learning processes people have. Some students do not test well under the best of circumstances and do especially poorly when tested under stress. Despite claims to the contrary, one must wonder whether or not pro-test taking folk really like children or understand their needs.

Another issue that is remotely associated with test taking is the myth that giving piles of homework leads to better learning by students. After observing my granddaughter work through 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and again on Sunday night, I see frustration and rote learning, and picking out answers from study books in place of active reading, thinking and learning.

Our children deserve better. Excessive testing and piles of homework do not seem to be the answers.

Perhaps we could "invest" in time, supplies, books, smaller schools and the like to help our children. Additionally, the idea of drills and rote learning should have perished a long time ago. However, as each new wave of first year students demonstrates, that ancient concept is alive and well and creating problems for the new college students.
See Jay Matthews column: He also discusses the growing antipathy toward high stakes tests by presenting one example of positive school values and successes in a San Diego area school. Perhaps, politicians who have little to know knowledge and experience with education should keep their fingers out of education.

Instead they have the autocratic notion that they can cut programs that work in place of those that do not and then expect better results. This all because the vote to allocate funds for schools.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tree Frog Contest


I am considering one of these two pictures as part of a design for my new enterprise--Cocqui Consulting: Writing and Editing Services. Friends of mine can please write to me and indicate which picture will do.

This is rather whimsical while the second photo shows more of the Cocqui in a less prettied up setting. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Why We Need History Lessons

History must be in the air, for during the past few weeks I've read or heard commentaries on the importance of history and the need to teach it more fully in USAmerican classrooms. Jack Lessenberry of Michigan's NPR had a short but worthwhile essay on this topic.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Success Followed by Complacency

In a news report, the writers of a piece on a possible organizing movement among Latinos said that in the past "Success was followed by complacency." That seems to be true and is probably one of the reasons that Latinos cannot get sufficiently organized to exercise their potential political clout in this country. Because each of us comes from countries who have differing relationships with the USA, organizing is difficult. The article from the Washington Post does explain some of this, but knowing this will not help to keep people together on political issues.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Those Aliens Again

Ideologues stem tide of possible agreement on a bill concerning "illegal" aliens. Of course the problems will not end with the passage of this bill. Nor is the fear and posturing by both Democrats and Republicans doing anything to give confidence to the voters of this country. Most of the issues raised during this debate lack substantive corrections to the problem. Should the Mexican government ever do something to actually provide education and work for its people, much of the problem of illegal immigration would dry up. Of course, corporate america would have to stop dependance on the workers from south of our borders. What else is new? Not much, I suppose because no one has the courage to do what is right over what is expedient.

Connections

I spent a good part of this morning working with Bill Degenaro on our writing projects. I always like doing that because of the feedback we give one another --- based on mutual interests and research agendas.

I now need to consider what to name my future editing/consulting business and want people who know me to share their insights at my other blog:

I'm getting digital camera equiptment to help me get visuals I like and of my self on line. I want to make my other blog site "prettier" and more "professional" looking.

Discussions of migrant worker issues are still ongoing and I do not see any healthy or good outcomes. Of course, it may be that as Leslie Marmon Silko once said, the peoples displaced by the acquisition of their territories many years ago are coming back to take their lands. Land, identity, spirituality and many other aspects of indigenous people may be on the march northward so that the spirits of the past can be left to sleep in peace. Who knows? But it does seem like an interesting idea.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Another Move Another Parting and Another Time to Grow

As short as I am I find that despite the number of years that I am here on this earth I can continue to grow and learn. Of course some of what I learn is very heartening such as the following link from Richard Rodriguez, whose writings endear him and separate him from my sense of Latinidad. During the latest anti-immigrant movements, Rodriguez spoke out: This essay on npr seems to support my contention that those of us who are children of people not born in the US have many conflicts which in time must be healed. Rodriguez' recent writings seem to indicate that he, like so many of us in similar positions, have reached the age when we can unite our beliefs. It is in part a process of what my Mother used to call the ancestors calling to us. "La Sangre Llama" she would say meaning that sooner or later those of our ancestors must be heard, heeded, and in a very real way incorporated into our very beings.

Toni Morrison might call this the process of rememories or our due to our ancestors who had worked so hard to survive the trials of their lives to make it possible for us to live a better life today.

Unlike Rodriguez and Morrison, I haven't felt for a long time that I've written enough about this reconnection, although I've taught it a lot in many classes. Now that I've been given the opportunity to not work at yet another institution, I feel that mi gente are telling me to get a life that requires living on less and writing more. However, I would like my writing to help the many of us who are hybrid americans and to be proud of being thus. The thrust to assimilation is damaging to families and to the individual psyche and thus does not work. In a recent talk, my colleague Francisco Noe Tamayo, Jr. indicated the personal family tug of war between his son and his dad because of the demand for assimilation and loss of home languages. These situations should not take place for all humans deserve the respect and allegiance of family first and nation later.

Bueno more later

Sunday, April 02, 2006

NALAW

The Native American/Latina Writers Course is going well the early essays by students were phenomonal and we are moving along at a pretty rapid pace. I did give shorter shrift to the Latina writers because the amounts of reading were pretty heavy early on in the semester. However, Latino Boom will help fill in the gaps and some of the magic realism imbued short stories from other anthologies should round out any missing areas.

Next time, I'll pair up novels by members of each group or focus exclusively on one group for each semester.

Doing work that deals with other cultural perspectives will allow me to expand my teaching repertoire. I will use Native American based texts to lead the classes I plan to teach this summer.

I also have ASU Polytechnic set up for the coming Spring--2007 and have a possibility to teach at MSU for the summer. That should get enough cash to me to allow me to make a sane decision about whether to stay or return to the desert for the Fall.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Current Courses Winter 2006

I am teaching two distinctly different courses with two distinctly different student populations. The first year writing students have been a joy and I've given them plenty of time to integrate their service to community agencies into the assignments. So I'm getting very good papers from students who normally would not provide the details needed in writing a profile. I have high expectations of this classes' next assignment which is to take a position on a subject they care about but the limit is that it must be an issue of social justice.

Native American and Latina American Writers, my other class has helped me crystalize my topic for my book. I'm grateful for the opportunity of teaching the history and the anthropological studies of Natives from the SouthWest as that was the region for some of my favorite tribes. Also, the transculturation that took place among the various t sribes of the SouthWest along with Anglo and Mexican cultural interactions provides a rich source for study by me as well as by my students.

As I teach the use of stories among Laguna, Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, Pima and other tribes of the area I can see the influence on Spanish peoples from SouthAmerica from the indigenous peoples they encountered. So I intend to do a kind of reversal of what Mary Louise Pratt did with Imperial Eyes and Contact Zones by looking at writing by women in Spain and then those writings by Mestizas in the North and South America. I am researching and enjoying looking into narratives as arguments -- see Silko's web metaphor and western argumentation structure. We can't forget that many Latinas learned from the Western traditions. The interesting things that happen are those which occur with the hybridizing of the two traditions.

More at a later time.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Vanishing Youths

Reading about dropouts triggers a lot of frustration. The answers seem so simple yet not many are acting on good ways of dealing with education. Instead of building institutional sized high schools people should go back to smaller schools. At a time when young people need closer attention the larger insitutions lose too many of our future. An article in the LATimes, makes the case for my idea. Also, could our society not go back to different tracks as not all humans are ready for college at the age of 18? Some need time in the world to figure out who they are and what they'd like to do.