Sunday, November 25, 2007

Complacency, Idealism, Politics, and Change - Entry for November 25, 2007

To the world, Americans are ignorant when it comes to world affairs. I get this impression from conversations with friends from other countries and from news outlets outside this country. World news should not be a ten minute segment that follows talk of another celebrity getting arrested for a DUI. In truth, the news covers pop culture and disaster more than they do social unrest and conflict - abroad and at home. At the core of this disconnect is the American educational system and the political machine. We are not taught in school the current events of other countries, the history behind these events, the country's socioeconomic and political status, and how they impact the global community. At best, we get a cursory instruction on the ancient world, and then if we wish to learn more, we can take courses at the university level.

From where does American complacency and ignorance of the world stem? How can it be changed? The problem with finding out where the this ignorance comes from lies in ignorance itself. People do not question what they think is fine. The old addage (or cliché if you will) applies: "If it's not broke, don't fix it." This ignorance does not only apply to world knowledge but knowledge about the various social and economic problems we have this country. To give an example: AnyCity, USA codifies the removal/arrest of homeless people from public property. The inhabitants of this city stop seeing the homeless people where they once did. What happens then: there is no outrage at their living conditions; there is no sense of shame at seeing them shiver in the cold or begging for food; and the people go about their daily life. If we sweep away the homeless and make them disappear, does this stop homelessness? NO! Analogously, if we do not see what is happening in the world, it does not mean it is not happening and that there will be no impact in our lives. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.

If we are taught about the world when we are children - not in some propogandist nationalistic bent, but in an objective study of how different countries operate and their political, social, linguistic and cultural structures- then we can truly operate as knowledgeable citizens of this country and the world. With this instruction, we will grow up intellectually invested in the world; we will understand outside views of Americans as a people and nation; we will not be so arrogant when we talk about our fledging country because we will understand that many of the countries of this world have been around for millennia; we will learn other languages to be competitive on the global stage; and we will then understand the world's horror at the military campaigns the United States has spearheaded up to this point. More importantly, we will be able to respond to the world's criticisms of our actions with ACTION.

Actions. In the short history of our country, we have been kept in the dark about many of government's actions. In 1966, the Freedom of Information Act was enacted to allow more accecss to government agency information, but I do not think it did anything with regards to transparency - or our country's complete openness about its actions and why they are doing them. We are giving pretty stories about helping our neighbors and liberating countries from oppression, but we are not told the truth as to how we gain from helping. But if Americans do not know how or why they should access this information, they do not do it.

If we do not demand more information, we will not receive it. We are complicit in our country's decisions because of our complacency and ignorance. So this is my idealized solution: knowledge. We need knowledge from the ground up. We need transparency. We need honesty. We need history. We need education. We need to change the very core of our country to ensure its longevity. And once we receive this knowledge and transparency and honesty and history and education, we need to do something about it. We need to demand that our politicians work on what is important to us. We need to vote and keep voting till the majority of this country - the working class man and woman - has their voice heard in a thunderous roar. We are not stupid, America...we are kept in the dark with a blindfold and earplugs. The lights needs to be turned on and the blindfolds lifted. Open those ears to what our world is telling us.

So for a purely selfish reason, I was confronted with the realization that while I have many opinions on what I read about in the news, and I am more informed than most Americans with regards to world events and politics, I have not thought about exactly where I stand in terms of American policy, politics, and the world. The politics of this country are like a choreographed dance, and I haven't the steps. They are mired in money and cronyism.

Monday, November 19, 2007

360 Worlds - Entry for November 19, 2007

I started clicking on the 360s on the pages of my friends. People i did not know. Soon, I was in a sphere of chat friends that was foreign. They had testimonials, references to the same events, and it kept going farther and farther away from the chat world that most of us have here. I have 360 friends from 3 places, and some of those friends overlap for a lot of us. I have seen friends I had in Books and Literature many years ago on the pages of the friends I created in Professors Chat in the past year or so. I also have friends from the Classical Music room, and some that I developed through 360 itself.

It is very strange to contemplate the spheres of friends that are going on all over Yahoo and other social networking sites. They exist and are chatting and are messaging each other.

Of course, I knew this was happening. There are so many other rooms in Yahoo chat and groups and so many other Yahoo communities that it would be foolish to think otherwise. But to actually venture into those realms and read their familiarity felt a bit . . . .uncomfortable. So many beautiful words, poetry, people, pictures . . . lives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mariposa Pensativa - Entry for November 14, 2007

The phrase Mariposa Pensativa itself means Pensive Butterfly. I use the term butterfly not because I like to flit around but because my name, Vanessa, means butterfly in Ancient Greek, and more commonly known as a genus in the butterfly kingdom. The actual etymology of the name is disputed. The website Behind the Name says that the author Jonathan Swift invented the name Vanessa by rearranging the initial syllables of the first name and surname of Esther Vanhomrigh, his close friend. But the name Vanessa could be derived from Phanessa, a feminine form of Orphic Phanes (which, by the by, is also a genus of butterflies), a primeval, golden-winged hermaphroditic god, meaning "appear." Yet some naming sites say that Phanessa is the ancient greek goddess of brotherhood. *shrugs shoulders*

When I was 9, my best friend Marcia gifted me a phone book with my name on the cover and a stamp of my name. The cover of this book said my name meant butterfly and this is what I have always believed. I remember thinking that I loved that it meant butterfly. I felt like one day I would stop being an ugly caterpillar and be a beautiful person one day. Before that day, I always felt awkward having the name Vanessa. It is not exactly a "Mexican" name.

My mother said that she would have named me Helen, but that during her pregnancy there was a Spanish telenovela that had a protagonist by the name Vanessa. I did some research, and the Mexican soap was called "Vanessa" and aired in 1982. The role was played by Lucía Leticia Méndez Pérez.

Mendez continues the streak of success with Vanessa (1982). Suspenseful endings will play a part of the pull audiences have of her stories, Vanessa is no exception to the rule. Not only does she paralyze Mexico with her endings, but the whole world turns to watch her endings. With Vanessa, she becomes the first star to be killed in a nationalized television production. The world would be shocked as the movie transcends borders. She goes on to sing the theme song that will sought after fans, that will never be compiled on her albums. The production team decides not to cut it because it may detract from her fame has pop singer, where some critics may say that it used that track has a pull for cd buyers.
Since then, I have grown to appreciate my name.

I did some digging into the photograph that I have so willingly put into my Yahoo 360. It is José Domingo Noriega's "Ladina disfrazada de mariposa." s.f...."Ladino woman in butterfly costume." n.d. It was most likely taken sometime during the 1890's through the 1930's. It is part of a collection of glass plates of photographs taken by Noriega and other Guatemalan photographers that are being rescued by CIRMA, the Center for Mesoamerican Research, a non-profit foundation founded in 1978 and based in Antigua, Guatemala.

The three photographers - Yas, Noriega, and Zanotti - produced arguably the most extensive photographs on culture and ethnicity in Guatemala in the late 19 th and early 20th centuries. Their images document the evolving nature of interethnic relations in Guatemala, the emerging syncretism and dialogue between native cultures and Western culture, and the broad cultural change provoked by the expansion of the coffee industry as of the late 19th century. At a time when virtually all other photographers focused on the metropolitan elite in the nation's capital, these three revealed the rapidly changing cultures in the interior of the country.
In Guatemala, ladino refers to non-indigenous Guatemalans or mestizos...a mix of Spanish and Native American.

I hope that this new blog lives a lot longer than my last one. I am backing up my posts in text files. What I miss the most about my old blog are the comments that everyone wrote.

Thank you for adding this Mariposa Pensativa. I hope to learn a lot more about all of you.


In 1995 - Entry for November 14, 2007

I was sitting on the corner, looking across the street ....Nov. 14, 1995

Monday, November 12, 2007

Writing About Writing - Entry for November 12, 2007

As the minutes tick off in a day, there is a constant dialogue in my brain; a narrator and judge that constantly screens my actions and thoughts. The desire to blog about these thoughts surfaces every once in a while, but it sinks down again and the thoughts are forgotten or stored in the rolodex that fits neatly inside my cortices. A major fear is that if I sat down to write, I might not get up for a few days.

While at the San Francisco airport, awaiting my flight home, I began to write about my stay. Within one hour, I had about 3-4 pages of words-- too much for a blog post. Writing was much easier when I had a physical journal. I would write in my journal, draw pictures of things I would see. I was guileless and pretentious enough as a child to think that some future scientist would find my journal and actually gain insight into the world I was living in. The world is too large for that now. So many people are writing down their observations that many of those words will get lost in the oblivion of time. So as it stands, my trip to San Francisco will be remembered in great detail, just not on my 360.

It's okay.

Writing about writing. I seem to do that a lot. *laughs* Perhaps there is enough material in there to write a book one day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Waters of San Francisco - Entry for November 09, 2007

My recent trip to San Francisco was life-changing. I went touristing around the City by the Bay, walked to the Golden Gate Bridge, took a cable car, visited Chinatown and Golden Gate Park, went to the opera, and just marveled at the sights and smells of the City. I was composing a long blog about my experiences, but I feel I must wait a bit because that beautiful bay I walked along was marred when a container ship was damaged in the bay and dumped 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel into its water.

There were so many birds there. So many diving birds, pelicans and seagulls. There was a moment when they all took flight and I captured the moment...the Golden Gate Bridged displayed prominently in the background. Those poor birds will now have to fight to survive, including the sea lions of Pier 39, the fish and other sea life.

I sincerely hope that this ecological disaster is responded to promptly or the Bay that I saw just scant days ago will accessible to those who live by the bay and jog along its paths, and those that visit the bay will not get to see it as I did.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Few Bad Apples - Entry for November 08, 2007

Being in a chat room exposes one to many people. The majority of chatters congregate in the same room because they share like interests and enjoy the same topics of conversation. I like to believe that most of us go there to relax, share stimulating ideas, share music, talk on voice chat, and yes, to laugh and share the minutiae of one's day.
I am a veteran chatter. I say this because I have been chatting since I was 16. I have made good friends with the people I converse with. These friendships sometimes extend into my day-to-day existence via phone calls, text messages, and the rare meeting. In fact, one of the first posts I ever wrote on Yahoo 360 (with my now dead 360 account) focused on the fact that I considered the friends I made in chat to be just as valid as the friendships I held with people I can see every day. In retrospect, I did not have true friends until I started working, so my chat friends were my only friends for a long time.

Yet, there are those who come into a chat room to harass, wreak havoc, and cause discomfort to the chatters. It is a form of entertainment for them. I have never understood this type of person. They are not interested in creating friendships or sharing ideas. Their sole entertainment in a chat room is calling people bad names, interrupting conversations, and spreading lies and rumors. They are equivalent to school-yard bullies.
Yesterday, I got upset in Professors' Chat. For the past few weeks, there is a chatter who delights in calling me silly, stupid, and a bitch. He also makes comments about my divorce, that he feels sorry for my ex-husband who must have left me because I was a bad wife. He started these insults because he felt that I talked too much about my children. I talk about my children because they are a vital part of my life, but it is not all I talk about, and frankly, many chatters mention their children. This chatter does not insult the other parents, so I feel like he is picking me out for this treatment for no reason.
The people that know me well understand that he doesn't know what he is talking about, but for some reason, it galls me. His comments make me upset, defensive, and angry. Yesterday, I was so upset, I resorted to petty retorts about him being a bad husband for spending so much time chatting.
The truth of the matter is, I do care about what my friends think about me. I care that they respect me, and I in turn respect those who are worthy of it. I am a good person. While I am also an imperfect person, I treat people with kindness and will help anyone who needs it and if it is within my power to help. I was a faithful wife and a good wife. I tried very hard to make my marriage work. I am a good mother and adore my children. I try hard to be a good friend. I am not always successful. So when this chatter insults me, there is a fear that someone will believe him.
I realize it is not healthy to get upset over this person. I have ignored him, and will continue to ignore him in the future. I just wish people like him would find something more fulfilling in their life to do than to make others unhappy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Helping + Knowledge = Satisfaction - Entry for November 06, 2007

My aunt mentioned a few days ago that my cousin needed help with her algebra. She is a very bright, thirteen year-old, who normally gets A's in her classes. Algebra has been the only class she has had trouble with. Last night, my aunt arrived around 9pm with my cousin to receive help with her math.

Sitting with my cousin and explaining to her not only to reach the solution but how to apply it to other problems was really satisfying. There were several moments where I could literally see her eyes light up with understanding. This experience brought back memories of being a tutor.

When I was in high school, I was a tutor for a program called AVID. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. I was trained in tutoring my peers in mathematics and English. The satisfaction I received from tutoring almost steered me into the teaching/professing field. I had actually wanted to be a teacher throughout elementary school and junior high. It was only my fascination with computers that led me down the computer science track.

The tutoring went well, so my aunt said that she would be bringing my cousin back on a more regular basis. I look forward to it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Words - Part II - Entry for November 04, 2007

The Chaos
by G. Nolst Trenité, a.k.a. Charivarius
1870 - 1946

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye your dress you'll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,

Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,

But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,

Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining

Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.

From "desire": desirable--admirable from "admire."
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.

Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,

One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,

Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.

This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;

Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with "darky."

Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation's O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.

Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,

Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,

We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,

Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.

Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with "shirk it" and "beyond it."

But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.

Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.

Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won't, want, grand, and grant.

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.

Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.

Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,

Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.

Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

Never guess--it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.

Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,

Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,

Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation--think of psyche--!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,

Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and saying "grits"?

It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?

Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?

Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up!

Words - Part I - Entry for November 04, 2007

[sitting in my hotel room overlooking the alive Geary & Polk intersection, watching a love-scene on a movie for which I don't know the name]

words have so much power..
the way we pronounce them..
the way our lips move as the syllables fight for existence . . .
the impact they have upon delivery..
words are life

Words - Part I - Entry for November 04, 2007

[sitting in my hotel room overlooking the alive Geary & Polk intersection, watching a love-scene on a movie for which I don't know the name]

words have so much power..
the way we pronounce them..
the way our lips move as the syllables fight for existence . . .
the impact they have upon delivery..
words are life