Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Rainbows

I'm listening to the new Radiohead album, in Rainbows and I feel the deep need to create. This written form of creation requires the least amount of energy. They've released it online and are selling in on a sliding scale. You can pay as little or much as you want for it. I was listening to All Songs Considered and they debated as to whether it is an innovative, thoughtful move for Radiohead or just a gimmick to sell more albums.

I think that its innovative and thoughtful. Those who are able will pay more, those who arent won't. And those who have friends who buy it will get copies from them (that's me but I'm a starving teacher). On All Songs Considered, they said the album needs to be listened to with headphones, and I totally agree. In Rainbows reminds me of Radioheads' earlier album OK Computer in its ability to sweep the listener away through rhythm and sound. Its an amazing album that grows on you like a good album should.

I remember a few years ago, I went to visit a friend who was going to Columbia in New York and I went to the Whitney Museum of American Art. At the museum they had a sound room in which these electronic composers had put together "sonic landscapes," where they combined sounds into a transcendental continuum (I'm not even sure what that means). At first I thought it was weird, but as I sat and took it in, I had one of the most incredible "musical" experiences of my life. This album reminds me of that.

I was talking with Meghan last night about music and its strange connection to memories and time. Itunes is making music more accessible than ever before (except for when Mp3s were free). I have a huge library of music on my computer, but what I've realized is that certain songs exist in only one time and place, no matter how hard I try to collect them.

I tried to listen to Pearl Jam's "Why go Home," the other day and I realized that it will never sound the same as it did as I screamed it in the middle of the mosh pit at San Jose Spartan Stadium 11 years ago. I will always love Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, but i don't know that I will ever be as moved by Being There, as I was during my first trip to Europe after High School. I have flooded my collection with Greg Brown even though I am fully aware that he will probably never sound the same as he did during my first summer in Alaska (Two Little Feet).

This may be part of getting older or it may just be the reason why music holds such a powerful presence in many of our lives.

Listening to Radiohead: House of Cards

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Greener Me

I signed up for this National Day of Action through environmental blog posts, but I messed up. Monday was a long day, and blogging wasn't the first thing on my mind at the end of the day. I also have been searching for green inspirations and haven't found many. Its raining out, I guess that's pretty green.

I just subscribed to Outside Magazine and have been somewhat disappointed with their layout and general ethic. The pages seem to be drenched in advertisements and their glossy pages don't seem to match their supposed green ideals. They write more about gear and clothing than they do about the great outdoors.

I just read an interesting article about this guy who drives a Ford F150 and he was saying that he wasn't sorry for driving that car. He lives on a farm and produces much of his own food and reads books instead of using his power hungry computer. It seemed to me like a plea for acceptance. Then again, he made some really good points: no matter how far us upper middle class white folk drive in our Prius' (or bike), as a culture we are still rabid consumers. We shop at Safeway and buy organic produce from the likes of New Zealand, in which the transport was probably much more harmful to the environment than the miracle grow on the next door neighbors tomato plants. We use technology and drain power and batteries daily at work and at home, we travel to exotic locales in planes that burn more fuel than 60 cars every 100 miles. i think that if we really want to make true environmental change we do need to re-think the way that things are being done on a very large scale but also on a smaller scale.

I think it is important though to remember the positive, every little bit helps.

I've been researching Buddhism with my students and one of the four noble truths is about longing for things and how that causes suffering. Killing off that desire is one of the hardest things in any of our lives, but it can have a great effect on the planet and in our personal lives.

environmental rant: fin

listening to: The Weepies

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I know I just posted, but I saw this and was inspired. It is an ad, but this project is so exciting and amazing to me.

Its like this big opening up of the cracks of reality. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. We all have things that we hide. Reading through these secrets makes me feel more alive and more real.

I haven't yet bought one of this mans books but the art is visionary, and I plan to go see him at Bookshop Santa Cruz when he comes. I've been trying to brainstorm how to use this in English, I see it as a wonderful writing prompt but there must be more.

A Peaceful beginning

My mornings and afternoons have slowly become the most essential and serene parts of my day. I just got a new bike and have been riding it to work every morning.

As I pedal through the dawn light I am able to mentally prepare myself for my day. Sometimes I go over the lesson plans for the day or for the next week.
Sometimes I go over how I can better resolve conflicts with students. Sometimes I just think about how cold it is in the morning.

I also have been listening to The interdependence project podcasts. They are these weekly lectures about 21st century Buddhism in the US. They have helped me deal with situations differently and have given me things to share with my students as we plow through Dharma Punx.

As my day comes to a close I ride my bike home and am able to pedal out any stress or confrontations that I had to deal with that day.

Its sort of a meditation that has really helped with my sanity and its been good for the environment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Doing my Part

I want to start this post by letting it be known that I don't have a terrible job. It seems that the negative experiences seem to constantly seep out in my online rants, but there are good things too. Like today for example a graduate from last year came to me and told me that she was in community college and she was there because of me. If I hadn't supported her, she wouldn't be in college right now. It gave me that warm fuzzy feeling.

In other news I was finally polled last night by a media group.

I always read about these political polls about where Americans are with their political leanings or interests and I think, "whatever, they never asked me!"

but they did, they did. My opinion, no matter how small it is will be heard. The two issues that I said were most important in the upcoming election were health care and the war. I thought about it and can't believe that I didn't say education. I guess I don't see the pitfalls as much working at a charter school, even though I am very aware of their existence.

My voice is heard, and I hope other voices are heard as well in this upcoming election.

Here is a link to an important bill that was just vetoed:
Let congress know what you think about children's health care.

listening to: Glen Hansard Once

Monday, October 1, 2007

The inadequacy principle

I've been trying to find inspiration for things to write about in my blog from my day to day life, but for some reason things just don't seem extremely inspiring lately.

At school, I've been dealing with a small group of students who are just completely rude and obnoxious to me. Conveniently, they are all students from last year and for some reason seem to have it out for me. The same student today told me that I will burn in hell and that everyone hates me. I know what your thinking... don't take it personally, he's probably dealing with his own demons it has nothing to do with you. But damn that is not easy. In the last week another student told me to F*** off when I told him to leave campus for smoking.

I try my best to not take things personally, but it isn't always that easy. And as an educator I know I'm supposed to say, "What is their strength?" or "How can I support these students' learning?" but I'm more prone to say, "How can I get these students out of my classroom, they are taking away from the other students learning and my credibility."

It may sound selfish but I'm done being a babysitter for students who just cant handle the structure of school or have these transferred feelings from a dilapidated past.

I wanted to tell this student to F off. I didn't of course, but I think those sort of incidents are slowly hipping away at my integrity and strength. I chose this profession to make change and help young people grow, especially those who aren't exposed to many opportunities for growth. But with these students I have tried again and again to give them what they need and I think I'm done.

I'm not done with the job, just with 3 or 4 kids.

listening to Greg Brown