Wednesday, November 26, 2008

random acts of thought . . .

This past week I finished the book 1984 written by George Orwell (Eric Blair). Winston, the main character of the story has finally learned to love Big Brother. Certainly not the ending I was expecting. It always fascinates me to read , or in this case listen to, books that are written by people who use pen names. What is it with the pen names? Do people think that their own name doesn't sound fluid enough to sell their stories? Is there a question about the meaning of their name that hinders them from using it in the first place? Whether it is a writer, singer, or actor, it seems that those that use pen names, or stage names, eventually revert to using their given names to credit their work. If they are eventually going to use their given name, why don't they just start out using it in the first place.

In talking about names, I have found it quite interesting that ART is included in my name. G art H is my given name, which means keeper of the garden, and it dawned on me years ago when I started teaching art that it was included in the middle of my name. Of what great magnitude is it that that occurs? None. It is just an interesting detail, among many, that are a part of my life.

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my family this year. It will be the first time we will have a Thanksgiving meal together in that most of our lives we lived several thousands of miles away.

Friday, November 21, 2008

too close to home . . .

Winston now finds himself in the middle of a cell, surrounded by others who have been arrested by the Thought Police for crimes against the inner party of Big Brother. His situation, being exacerbated by his recent discovery of his own thoughts and feelings, is a dismal , one-way street to the inevitable vaporization that happens to all who dare to "live" life outside the view of the telescreen.
The telescreen . . . I feel like I too have the telescreen where big brother watches my every move. My actions, words, thoughts, are all scrutinized by big brother. My philosphy, my reasoning, my rationale for teaching is constantly questioned. The overlooking of "Big Brother" has gotten to the point where every action and reaction from me or my students is becoming an exercise in psychology and sociology.
On a lighter note, Saturday morning I am taking the boys hunting for the first time. Deer season is in, I have borrowed a shotgun, we have the licenses, and I went and bought the "hunter safety orange" vests to wear. It should be fun sitting in the woods, quietly, motionless, faintly breathing waiting to see if a deer happens to walk our way. I am a little nervous about what to do with it afterwards though. I am sure I'll figure it out. You know, "I'll cross that bridge when I get there."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength . . .

Having grown up in Ohio and attended a somewhat country school system, not much reading was required through my high school years. In fact, the only book I remember being forced to read through was Lord of the Flies in my sophomore year honors English class. (the only year I took an honors class :) In fact, I remember only partially reading it and feeling somewhat lost when we were discussing it in class. (and then there was the term paper that followed. I butchered it.) I am saying this all to admit my failure as a reader in my early days, and have now gained a pleasure for written work and am on a mission to read, or listen to, works that I missed while going to school.

For the past several years, I have had to travel around thirty minutes to get to my work as a teacher. This gave me uninterrupted time to listen to books on tape that I wanted to listen too. I have gone through several of the classic literature novels, and now find myself listening to George Orwell's 1984. OH MY GOODNESS! I am so excited to get in the van and travel to and from work. It is an outrageous story filled with parallel for today's situation, and the narrator uses his voice to literary "paint" the scenes for me to see. In reflection, I am sure that the purpose of the work would have went over my head if I had read it so many years ago, and I am quite glad now that I have the resources, time, and desire to read the work that is considered to be classics in the literary world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

in a safe direction . . .

This past Saturday and Sunday I did something that a few years ago I never would have imagined doing. Let me paint a picture with words.

Eight o'clock Saturday morning, Ildi and the others drop Nolan, Asher, and I off at the McGuffy Conservation Club. Before I get too far, let me go back to the night before . . . I tried to Google to find the address of the place, and I even called 411 information, and there was no record of MCC anywhere in the village of Alger, Ohio. So, I "phoned a friend," and found out the place was right across the road from their house! Back to the picture.

So Ildi drops us off while she and the others go to the Amish to pick up our 10 gallon stainless steel jug of milk (it is like living in the 1950's) and then do some shopping. We walk into the "club" which is set up like a 70's lounge full of deer trophies, Stroble and Budweiser lamps, and card tables. It's early, cold, and everyone looks like they just got up and threw the same clothes on that they wore for the week before. Not to mention the rectangle radiator that hangs from the ceiling! The place looked like it had never seen the light of day. Not even once. So we three sit down at some tables they have set up in the back room for our class. The class you ask? What class? We are to embark on the two day, twelve hour session of the HUNTER SAFETY COURSE required before you get a hunting license in Ohio.

The day, and the following day, was filled with information about gun equipment, gun procedures, safety while using a gun, along with thousands of dollars of guns for us to look at. Hunting stories and hunting experiences also came as part of the class. The first day it seemed we were like fish on bikes. Just didn't seemed to fit in with all the others that were taking the class. However, after a few hours of listening to the men talk, Nolan and I started asking questions and interacting with the instructors. Both men were short, stout, home grown hunters that knew their stuff when it came to hunting. After several questions, and the fact that none of the other participants asked questions, it seemed like a personal class with both men mostly teaching Nolan and I. Asher was trying his hardest to follow along with the fast pace, slightly country accent, and the jumping from book information to side stories.

On Sunday, we met and asked the Game Warden some questions and after a small review, took the 100 question test on gun safety. Both Nolan and I scored above 95 % and and Asher got the chance to retake the ones that he had missed. He and several other younger students had one of the instructors read them the questions and help them to understand what they were asking for. In the end, he got 99 % right.

The part that was really fun for me was what we did after taking the test. Ildi was to pick us up at 2:00, and we finished the test by 1:00, so we were going to be waiting there for an hour until she came. Some of the time was taken up by Asher retaking his test, and during that time, Nolan and I talked with one of the instructors. Come to find out, he was the Mayor of the village. When Asher was finished, we listened to stories they told about hunting, about the club, about growing up and living in the area, and a man even took Asher outside to show him how to shoot targets. One of the men gave me his number and said if I ever wanted to shoot a gun, I could call him and he would meet me at the club with one of his guns. Just a great big bunch of locals enjoying what they do and wanting to share their life (and stories :) with others.

Sunday night I picked up a hunting license for all three of us, and I also bought deer tags for the boys. The dear tags gives them permission to shoot the "bag limit" of deer for the year. For those of you who are not familiar with hunting . . .maybe you can sign up for the Hunter Safety Course so you will be in the know with terms like "bag limit." :)