Monday, March 31, 2008

Still In Bethel

Well, I'm still here, I'm still in the slushy, sloppy, muddy, Bethel. The weather has degraded to a sleeting sort of rain, with fog and wind. I boarded two bush planes and took off twice today. Both times returned, the first because of visibility decreasing on Nunivak, the second time we made it all the way to the island only to be turned away because snow drifts had blown over the runway and then rain melted them in to one gigantic mud puddle. I pilot from another airline landed the plane against his better judgement and it was rough, he radioed our pilot and told him not to land. So we flew all the way back to Bethel.

One positive of the day (maybe the only) was that I sat with Margee and Ira David, two elder ladies from my island trying to get out also. One of the assignments for my cultural class is to do an elder interview and I got to spend time and talk with these two wonderful old ladies all day (8 hours). I have plenty of their thoughts to write about on topics ranging from accepting offers from Eskimos (something a polite white kid like me had a hard time doing), their dying language and culture, white people who talk to much, the death of a husband (I attended his funeral instead of my own grandfathers in November because of money and time and weather), knitting musk ox yarn, white people adopting Eskimo accents (they said I'm sounding more and more native which will be slightly embarrassing when I return to Washington) and the effect of the internet/iPods on the youth of our island. When I write the paper I'll include it in a blog post so I can share these amazing women's stories and perspectives.

The major negative of my day is that I only took enough cash for a return cab ride if needed (it was). So I didn't eat all day, I survived off of the coffee and free popcorn and some french fries. I sat and stood all day, my butt meat started to atrophy and I kept getting cramps in my back from all the sitting. I learned a lot about patience today. Days like this have taught me a lot about how much control we have over some parts of our lives (decisions and actions and attitudes) how we really can't control some things like weather and travel. I started to think about what messages were being sent to me on this day.

The elder women kept saying "We will make it home if God wills it" and "If God wants us to travel then we will" and "Pray Hard and it will happen." I just smiled and nodded and thought of the meteorological phenomenon and physics that were preventing us from reaching home. Whether it was a large spiraling low pressure resulting from sun to ocean convection and conduction as well as the Coriolis effect, or a omniscient super being that controls all the actions of the world really doesn't concern me because either explanation provided the same result, me stuck, still, in Bethel.

Cama'i was a very interesting event. I got to see many different Alaska native dancers, the governor of Anchorage, and even some Maori tribal dancers from New Zealand. I found myself still tapping my foot today. I got to go to my cultural class and I got to visit with many first and second year teachers. I think my biggest frustration over the weekend was my inability to stay out of social interactions that continually steered toward a complaining session on the challenges of teaching Alaska native youth. Everywhere I turned new teachers (myself included sometimes) would spiral into a conversation towards whining and complaining about our situations and often times would turn into a who could out complain who about their village situations. I felt myself wanting to talk less and less, and felt even more Kassak when I did speak. I think that there are so many problems facing Eskimo culture out here but equally I am constantly being reminded of the things I've always despised about my own culture. I remember many of the same feelings bubbling up when I would meet other Americans in Australia, Fiji and South America. Some times I am so embarrassed to be American and White and also a giant hypocrite. I just wish that I could be better at doing the things about Western Culture that I appreciate and also improve my skills at avoiding falling into its pitfalls.

I think I will simply leave this blog post with my greatest appreciation of the Cup'ig and Yu'pik culture I have observed so far. I appreciate (not so much students in school sometimes) how well they listen and keep their own thoughts to themselves. I am learning to listen with native ears and I have two elder women to thank for a major lesson in how to do so today.

I will double up on the Wednesday Update to include the weekend update information. I saw that I only had 17 readers yesterday and I hope to gain more back when I return.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bethel, The Town I Love to Loath

Well, I'm still in Bethel, the weather is poo. I'm gonna try to leave tomorrow in the evening. We'll see how that goes. I left my computer power cord in Mekoryuk so this will probably be my last post till I return. Camai Festival is pretty cool. I'll write more to you all later. Hope the weekend is going well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Dudes and Dudettes, I had such a good day at the old post office today. Remember the other day when I was complaining about cadbury cream eggs? Well ask the blog audience and you shall receive, a random reader and internet correspondence friend sent Heidi sent me a buttload of cadbury cream eggs in a box with a note! How cool, thanks Heidi (pre emptive Big Ups). Then I got a care package from mom (3 dvd's, TheraFlu, Sports page, more cadbury cream eggs, drawing pads, and burnable cd's). Then as if a miracle, my NetFlix showed up to! I got 5 new movies, a bucket of cream eggs and some TheraFlu, YeeeeeeeeeeHAW!

So now I'm sitting here on my couch, staring at a very late pink sunset, clear skies, I'm listening to some FreeThought Radio, burning some sandal wood incense, waiting for the wash to finish with my travel clothes so can pack them up and take a shower, my belly full of chocolate and cream egg sauce.

To tell you the truth it was exactly what I needed to get over the fact that my students have basically fallen into an apathetic, lovesick, abyss. Today an entire game of kickball was ruined over romantic sulkings. And what's worse? Their blogs are being affected too.

Tomorrow I'll be heading into Bethel for Camai festival. Two days of Eskimo dancing, arts, crafts and cultural enjoyment with a nice crew of bad ass first year teachers (Whaddup homies see you tomorrow!). I would really be interested in going of my own volition, after all I've hunted (unsuccessfully) wild boar with Fijian Tribesman, Hiked the Inca Trail with Quechua Native Porters, and have always been heartfeltly interested in people and their culture regardless of where I travel, but there is just something sour about being "told" to go and take notes because of our cultural class. I haven't hated something as much as this cultural class in a long time. This is frustrating and confusing to me, so I've spent a considerable amount of time assessing my role and action in the class. Why am I so negative toward the class, the concept, and even the teacher? I don't know. In the tradition of Radiate Warmth I should maybe try to do something nice for the instructor, change my attitude or at least pretend like it resembles an educational experience.

But I'm sorry, I just can't. I can't stand it. I think I've figured it out. I refuse to change my opinion of this class until the teacher recognizes that the way people (kassak or native) learn is through inquiring about things they are interested in while participating in a social environment. I could care less if she is native or white, the class is just bad teaching practice. Now I'm going to go into Bethel with a real chance of getting to inquire into aspects of Eskimo culture that I am interested in, in a social setting, and instead I'm going to have this nagging, stinking, rotting smell of "I have to" or "obligation" or even worse "cultural assignment" in the back of my head. Nothing makes you feel more outside of a culture than doing an assignment for a course or class. If the teacher really wanted to help us learn about our local culture she would just let us go. Furthermore, we will undoubtedly listen to hours of her interpretation of said native culture when all we really want to do is share stories of our emerging understanding of the village cultures we live in. This desire will wait....all damn day...until we get together (as first years) on our own, on our own time, and basically try to make of up the collaborative and culture sharing deficit we racked up over the course of the class that day by subconsciously steering all of our conversations towards our own experiences from our villages. This is specifically why I am soooo mad, the teachers inability to recognize our real needs/skills (the sign of an effective constructivist teacher) is cutting into my relaxing and fun time and conversations with people I just want to hang with. AAAAAAAARG! That is the last straw (and also why I don't give a lot of homework in my own classes, who am I to invade people's life outside of school?).

ANYWAYS, rants aside, thank goodness for the other first years, I feel so much closer to them than anyone out here, like a fraternity of brothers and sisters, like fellow soldiers, like comrades, friends, weary travelers, and stand up comics, luckily there is enough backdoor jokes and commentary from this bunch of salty and goofy cats to make any experience bearable. So for that, I am thankful, I'll see all you home skillets tomorrow evening!

I don't know how much posting I'll do till Sunday but till then, tomorrow I'll be rocking the overalls all the way across the delta to Bethel and I hope everyone has a kick butt weekend!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ultra Extra Umph Humpday Umpdatacular

I have been taking it easy on the blog for a couple days...HAVE YOU NOTICED? Well boys and girls, children of all ages, I'm back with a vengeance. I have been storing up some things that I have been really wanting to radiate your way. The Ultra Extra Umph Humpday Umptacular is about to begin.

First. Music has been a huge part of my life lately. Here is a quick suggestion check list of the artists that have been been on constant rotation (thanks to the iTunes gift card from mom for easter.) Also, does anyone ever check these artist suggestions out? I always wonder if people read the music I talk about and never check it out. If you do end up looking up one of these guys let me know down the road what you think!

Xavier Rudd "White Moth"
This artist I learned to love while in Australia, a one man band, playing slide guitar, drums, didgeridoo, harmonica, hand drums and various other instruments simultaneously, while singing about civil rights, land use, respect for mother nature, good energy, trees, his momma, the ocean and aboriginis. I can only aspire to one day have song content as good as his, what a powerful message. Not only that he likes to rock out to, nothing like a "Yirra Kurl" or "Chant" song to drop that house on fire beat. He is slightly influenced by Paul Simon but has his own international style. This latest album is less tribal then past ones but still incredible.
THE CURE: "The Cure's Greatest Hits"
So I didn't know much about this band, but because they are headlining Saquatch this year I just had to figure them out so that I could really enjoy the set when I get back (5 weeks+!) So I bought the greatest hits like a total poser and I will say I have been rocking out to them for two days now. I love their simple formula of acoustic, electric, synthesizer and bass (tossing some fun variables like trumpets and xylophones from time to time). The songs do seem similar upon first listen but after a few trips around the album they start to take on identities of their own. The other exciting thing is that I knew many of the songs but didn't know it was them. "Boys Don't Cry" "In Between Days" "Close To Me" "Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm in Love" are all amazing songs you've heard before or will feel like you have. I oddly had visions of cool morning cruises to the Ocean with my friend Randall to go skimboarding. Any Cure fans out there that can explain what that know about them?

Paul Simon "Rhythm of the Saints"
I grew up with Simon and Garfunkle in the car and around town but I never really got into Paul Simons solo stuff. And I knew a couple of songs like "Graceland" "Me and Julio" but this album is really something special in the way that it really paved the way for white dudes to go into places like Africa and Australian Aboriginal culture and learn and incorporate their musi c and rhythm patterns into their own evolving style. This album is gently steeped in a heavy dose of African drumming and melodies. And I Love it. Check out "Can't Run But" or "Born at the Right Time"

In other news I've been listening to a lot of Podcasts lately. What is a podcast, I'm not really sure, I just know they're free, and they rule. I listen to mainly three right now. I'm sure you can get them if you're not on iTunes from the net, google it.

FreeThought Radio
is "A weekly show, broadcast live from Madison, Wisconsin, on 92.1 FM, Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12 noon. Ho sted by Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Slightly irreverent views, news, music and interviews." This has been a really cool nationally broadcast station for me to find because it helps me to realize there is a whole nation of people who are out there afraid to come out of the closet of "alternative spiritual beliefs" or even "lack of spiritual beliefs" Thats right, like the homosexual movement started "coming out of the closet" so are many atheist, agnostic and non christian business owners, politicians, teachers, and regular people. It made me realize that its ok to not be "religious." Religion does not equal "good person." If you are interested in listening to some very calm, rational, logical talk about the state of free thought and the non religious movement taking place in America this station could really be an eye opening experience for you.

This American Life
is "Of ficial free, weekly podcast of the award-winning radio show "This American Life." First-person st ories and short fiction pieces that are touching, funny, and surprising. Hosted by Ira Glass, from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio." The topics on this show are kind of irrelevant because it could be about elephant herpes or bumper boats and still be very enthralling and addicting. I am a very late arriver to this awesome show and just wanted to pass it on to the small percent of people that don't know about it already. I used to catch it as a meter reader in Washington occasionally. Now I'm obsessed with it. Check out episode #351-Returning to Childhood, its really funny.

Umphrey's McGee Podcast
This podcast picks and chooses two 70+ minute selection sets of cleanly recorded Live Umphrey's show songs a month!. They usually have a cool theme, explain them well, and always really kick major ass. I mean I can't believe its free, its like getting a 50 amazing albums for free. Each one has 10 to 15 minute versions of all their popular songs as well as incredible cameo's by artist from other bands that come on stage UM. If you like UM you just got to check this podcast out.

Ok that being said, another music related thing is happening. Basically, I'm taking it to the next step with my music. I've started (and paid for...don't worry its cheap) a web site service with the Independent Airtist Company (IAC). Basically I will be able to post all my best work there, get feedback, have it shared with other artists on their radio stations and have it reviewed by record companies for a small price and they will distribute it digitally to anyone who is interested (including you!) for cheaper than the $8.95 it costs me in packaging and postage to burn them and send them out myself. I am putting together an album called "Radiate Warmth" about my first year in Alaska and it will feature all my best lyrical song works (may be a double disc). I tried to make the songs free but they have a base line cost of $0.25 per song, so that means when its all ready the whole thing might cost like $4 bucks. Trust me please, its not about the money (I will send you a check paying you back thats only $0.41), but I want to get as much music out as possible and sending them out one by one has been tedious, slow and ineffective. If I could make it free I would. Also, I can have all the songs digitally remastered and professionally cleaned up for $15 bucks a song, so when I get it all situated the way I want it I'll let you know, I should have a completed, as professional as possible at this time from an island in the bering sea, year in the making, best of my work album ready for people to have, it comes with lyrics, song descriptions, stories, pictures, and background information and credits (this is what is taking so much time).

The best part is that I have a personal music page that you can visit for free when ever you want and comment on. It comes with a Radiate Warmth streaming radio player that you can just press play and it will loop all the songs on my station. I have only got 4 songs on so far and I really want it to be close to completion when I unveil the address to you. But if you're really interested in watching it grow and evolve you can email me/skype me and I'll send you the address. I'm just really proud of all the work I've done this year and I want it to be presented in completion and totality ok?

Thats the big news, not so big really, just that I'm finally making a real (as real as its gonna get) album, and I did it myself. I am just trying to find new ways to spread the love.

I'm gonna run to open adult gym and get my arse kicked at basketball by a bunch of Eskimo ballers, maybe I'll post more tonight!

Thanks to KMC and REESE for Participating in the Poetry Writing Exercise, how cool!

Writing Class Warm Up

I had the kids write a poem and it had to include these words or their various derivatives: sunset, star, happy, clap, night, day, upside-down, liquid, thought, wish, choice.

I often do the assignments myself with them, this is what I came up with.

The thunder clapped
My world was upside-down
I was standing
On the edge of a liquid Sea
I wished the sun would never set
I hoped the night would come
And the stars would choose to arrive...
A thought that often comes to mind

ANYONE Else want to try this exercise and post it as a comment?

Cool, I have a very important Humpday Umpdate later today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday I wish I had a noose Day

My mentor teacher was in town last night so I didn't get around to blog posting. We just had a very cool evening of teacher shop talk and general conversation about life. It is always nice having a cool person over to my usually solitary abode.

Unfortunately she got to observe all my classes on a day where they decided this is the day we feel like collectively being a bunch of butt heads. I don't know what it is exactly, but we got a pretty nasty strain "I don't give a flying crap" going around the school. I think the students are gearing up for state testing by acting out. State Tests are in the air, but not as much as back in Washington. Also, I think everyone is still recovering from their Easter/Jubilee hangovers. A lot of parents at church over the weekend, a lot of kids out and about, a lot of late nights, a lot of sleepy little guys at school so far this week (and what do sleepy babies do? Whine, cry, and throw tantrums...what do tired high schoolers do?...I'll give you a guess). Also its spring, love is in the air in Mekoryuk. There are a couple high school couples (in a high school of 14 thats about 30 percent of the students). Can you remember high school relationships? I can, and I'm glad I don't have to go through those anymore (it all seemed so unbelievably important/tragic/serious) but in retrospect it was only the times. But regardless, in my high school a bad day with the girlfriend or if you were a girl, boyfriend, meant that you still could hide out in the back of the class and be left alone, but in a class of 6 one kids bad day becomes everyones immediate environment.

It doesn't seem to follow me home as much, I love being home now. In my sanctuary, with my tea, and music, and my new obsession podcasts, water colors, and writing letters, and couch, and sweatpants. Its like after a day dealing with 14 individual crisis to be able to come home and be in an environment of peace that I created is so nice. So here I am, warm, comfy, tea drinking, nag champa smelling, and I'm listening to Velvet Underground mix cd (my substitute for the beatles...always have always will hate the beatles) and the song that is playing is so ironically "Perfect Day" and the lyrics are "Oh its such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you, its such a perfect, you just keep me hanging on..." This day was far from perfect, but I'm home and that is good.

The neighbors had me over for reindeer stew...yes! Score!

I'll write about the readers choice topic soon.

I have something very very very important (for me at least) in my personally created music happening soon (don't worry its not a record deal). I'll explain more later when I get it up and running. Till then you'll have to rely on this blog to listen. Oh, man its gonna be awesome though.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekly Update 3/23

Ah the sweet smell of chocolate. Thats right, its Easter. Whether you're remembering the resurrection of Jesus or the resurrection of a fictional bunny that lays eggs in the night for little boys and girls to find, its that special day. Unfortunately this will be the first Easter in my memory that I haven't had a Cadbury Cream Egg, and that saddens me deeply.

Musical Artist of the Week: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in the "Once" movie soundtrack. I finally was feeling sappy enough and lonely enough to by a big fat love ballad cd. Fortunately Glen Hansard of The Frames and Marketa's angelic voice make it some how okay. If you're looking for a big Golden Egg of a goody this soundtrack is for you and its even filled with rich creamy love and a couple of nuts.

Old Person Phrase of the Week: "Cryin' Shame" This expression is pretty self explanatory. Now if you really want to put some zesty southern flavor to it just add "Now Ain't that just a Crying Shame?" to the whole phrase and really spice 'er up a bit.

Weather Here on Nunivak: Well it ain't getting any friggin' warmer I'll tell you that. It is 6 deg. F with a 20 mph wind coming straight out the butt of jack frost due north. That makes it about -14 outside. We have clouds and a 9:30 sunset which keeps it light out till 10. That sounds like more time to fish right? Wrong. Its colder than a witches butt in iron britches and you can't really do anything but stay inside going crazy.

Weblink of the Week: Holy crap the North West String Summit is getting HUGE this year. Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Drew Emmit and Bill Nershi, and Strings For Industry! I mean its gonna be gigantic. Anyone on the west coast this summer who doesn't go is really making a poor decision. Its July 18,19,20 at Hornings Hideout outside of Portland Oregon. Camp amongst the trees, dance amongst the trees, kick up some dust with some hippies, and hear all the late night string pickin sessions that seem to miraculously pop up like fungus! Its gonna be great, see you there?

Art Update: I've been playing some guitar and drawing/painting with watercolors. I keep making underwater creatures for some reason. I love the definite and complete color of water color paints, the problem is that mixing colors is hard and it bleeds (if you are an amateur like me). Check out the drawing colored in with WC's of Barnacles in the previous post.

ClustRMap Update: At just about 1200 site hits since Feb 9. I'm pretty pumped. Our little reading community here on RW fluctuates from 25-45 readers a day! I can't believe it, hopefully the ultra long, ultra serious religious contemplations didn't drive anyone away! :(

BIG UPS: This weeks Big Ups goes to my Mentor Teacher Pat McDonald for frequently and fearlessly travelling out to the great barren arctic desolation to provide mental, spiritual, professional and nutritional support to me as well as many other first year teachers. She'll be arriving here tomorrow weather pending and will undoubtedly enlighten me as always! Thanks Pat. Her blog is really cool too! Check her out with the Iditarod Champ in Nome! and her blog is Alaska Mentor Pat!

Random Iverson Photo: This is me taking an underwater photo of myself in Fiji in the Blue Lagoon bay. You'll notice a lot of sunscreen on my face because I burned the crap out of myself earlier that week. Sweet Straw hat though!

New BLOG FEATURE!: On the toolbar to the right I've added a JamBase concert finder. All you have to do is pick a city nearby and it will tell you all the concerts and shows of cool people I like playing soon! I think this is a great way to Radiate Some Warmth because you can go see bands that I think anyone would enjoy!

Have a good week you cheeky monkeys.

Below is a song I wrote last night, listen if you want.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lazy as Crap and bored as hell.

Sat on my ass urday. Jeez lou eeeeese. I drew and water colored this yesterday. It was the last productive thing I did. I slept in till 11 am because of a very very late night phone call from an old friend. I went to the post office and to the store, cruised by the school, got some paperwork and worked on some schoolwork till dinner time. Man, I have so much school work to plan for the rest of the year and I'm starting to feel like I'm running out of material. I have a bunch of class work for other classes to do, kind of stressful. I'll probably work tomorrow on Easter, just to prove what a non Holiday it is for me. If I was home I would get to search for easter eggs in the house that my mom hid, she still does this even though we are in our 20's which is embarrassing and cool.

I'm totally freaking bored out of my mind. I'm that level of bored where I can't even do anything because I've already done the crap out of it. Guitar, draw, paint, write poetry, read, take a walk, I've done it all so many times they are just boring. I got cabin fever bad. I want to get the heck out of this town for a bit. I get to leave on Friday for Bethel...(unenthusiastic yay). Its okay though, I'm excited to see my first year teacher friends! You guys rule. First years in the house! I wish I had something more interesting to say, but alas, I don't. So I am going to settle on the couch like a fat lard and watch more second rate old overpriced rental movies from the rip store across the street, tonight Nacho Libre and Rumor Has It, yep can you smell the bottom of the barrel as I scrape it? I did watch the Big Lebowski last night, thats a hell of a film masterpiece right there. Okay, I'm done, this post is rather pathetic actually, kind of like my Saturday, unenthusiastic and lazy. The highlight of my day has been the French press coffee I drank the whole day and the Umphrey's McGee podcasts I've been listening too.
I'll perk up for the weekend update tomorrow hopefully. Night night.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Overalls Friday and Larry the magical emerald encrusted snail.

Today is Friday. I'm not going to say much. I feel like Steve Prefontaine on the last laps against the Finnish Nemesis at the Olympics, I started strong, wowed the crowd and worried the Fins, but I think I kicked myself out and didn't leave much for the final laps. But I did my best and I guess that makes for an Overall good week.
I took some weird photos yesterday of a 9:25 sunset. Today its beautiful and I hope there is another one, although I might sleep early tonight.

The post yesterday flowed forth from me randomly and fluidly last night. After I wrote it I felt good. I wanted to draw really bad after. I was out of paper so I drew on the cardboard back of the empty pad. I just started drawing. I wasn't really sure what was going to come of it until it was finished. I looked at it, and I realized I had just drawn a snail. I wrote the words from the blog underneath, "Larry the magical emerald encrusted snail." I was pretty amazed that out of all the things I could have drawn that was what I ended up drawing and I really didn't plan to draw a snail. So below there he is. I'll write more this weekend, but to tell you the truth, I'm mush right now.Actually I talked to my brother on the phone for a while, and then I drew this tropical septor finned sucka fish from Bornio (not true, made that up). In response to HDT's comment, I never know what I'm gonna draw when I start. Whether its Larry up above there, or this sucka fish below I just start drawing until it starts to look like something. In the fish drawing below I used watercolor paints to color him in. Water colors are really hard, but I prefer them to color pencils because the color comes out so complete. I also like these little squares of cardstock I found in the art room.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Radiate Warmth


A couple of things are happening lately that have brought the topic of religion up in my life (again) and how I may be the true minority of the village.

First of all, we are having an experience here in Mekoryuk called Jubilee, its a big deal, and our village will be growing by about 50 people today through Sunday which almost increases our population by thirty percent. Jubilee is a celebration here based around singing the words of Christianity in the fellowship of other Christians, which many people will come to enjoy. Imagine if your town suddenly increased its population thirty percent of a specific type of people with a specific purpose/definition, what would that look like?

Secondly, this Sunday is Easter where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his crucification on the cross. It is also another religious holiday that has been paired with, what many may hate to admit as the new modern spiritual leader, commercial and material goods. Not only will people spend their weekend in their religious rituals and buildings and beliefs, they will possibly pack their faces full of chocolate, carmel and malted pastel candy coated balls.

Lastly, the topic of yoga has come up. I was forced to try to contemplate why on earth someone would not want to include a very healthy, active, natural way of stretching and conditioning the body into their state educational standards based physical activity based on the fact that it is linked to Buddhism. Officially I was not teaching yoga, rather pointing out several stretches we do in PE are like those of yoga poses. "Namaste" was never said, no blood, no foul. But I digress...

So lets start from the concrete. I'm going to to be very specific, so just to make very clear some things. I do not believe in god. Yep, read it again, I said it. To tell you the truth I never have. And, to the best of my surveys, may be the only one on this island who doesn't.

It is a weird feeling to just realize. Not only am I on a literal geographical island in the Bering Sea, I am on a spiritual island too, one as far and distant and possibly dangerous (at least to my friend making ability and career in Eskimo Village public education) as the Bering Sea itself. What do I mean by that? What do I mean by god?

Well, here's how it goes. Have you ever heard of those children that are locked up in their closets by their whacko parents for the formative years of their language development and how they are then unable to truly form any vocal or verbal competency for the rest of their lives because of it? I believe the same is true for religion. Either you believe in some sort of god, or you don't and this is based on whether or not you were exposed to him/her/it/them as a child or not. IT WAS FORMED as a part of your reality as a child in a little way or a big way, you can't change it easily because it is ingrained in the very fiber of how you make sense of your world around you. I am not saying that my parents are whackos who kept me from religion, they simply let us decide if we wanted to believe (a cool move on their part I think). In so doing, we were not exposed to the rituals, practices, words, or indoctrination as other kids, Therefore, when I formed my early theories on how the universe is put together as a child I had to come up with alternate explanations besides god made it so or god made it so.

There was no Noah's Ark for me. I had books on Dinosaurs. There was no David and Goliath, there was The NeverEnding Story. There was no Mark, Luke, Paul, John. There was Susan (mom), Mark (dad), and Hal (brother) my family, Harvey, Barbara, Lindley and Jean (Grandmas and Grampas). They were my religion, my pastors, priests, shamans and guides. There were the apple orchards and hikes with Grandpa to the point in the Okanogan Valley. There Grampa and I would sit and stair down to the Giant white cross bolted to the top of the cliff and I would feel nothing. He didn't even speak of it to me, he only listened to me talk as we walked along picking the various plants, throwing rocks, and telling jokes. What I'm trying to say is there is no "GOD" in the Christian sense for me. There really isn't god in any sense for me. There is only life, the one I'm living, the memories and lessons I've learned, and the hope for the future.

As I grew older out of childhood, I started to pay attention to this thing they called science. It explained things. Things that nobody else felt like explaining to me. It could explain how everything I see around me worked. How everything I can't see worked. And if it can't explain it, a scientific process of going about studying, experimenting, recording and making a conclusion on how it might.

This caused a little bit of trouble for me. Mostly because I got science right away. I had built my reality of the world on observations, mini internal experiments. Dinosaur books and nature. Science just became the voice for which I could start to verbalize and categorize how things worked in my world. This can cause trouble because science is based on "facts." I was good with facts. I was good with school. I was good with understanding facts at school about science. I was not good at understanding why a lot of the Christians at my school said I was going to this "hell" they spoke of just because I didn't believe in their explanation of reality.

In Gig Harbor Washington where I grew up through school, there is a strong "Young Life" contingent. There is a multi-million dollar church and many many many teachers, coaches, and community members involved in it and its youth outreach programs. If you were a rambunctious high school student with an above average understanding of biological, evolutionary and scientific theory in a world like this, it was like a debaters heaven. Young Lifers came from all angles trying to persuade me to come to their special camps in the summer, to come and hang out, then when I said the magic words "I don't believe in god" they suddenly would turn on me as if I was some sort of freak. Unfortunately I don't have as much understanding as I do now so I would pull out my shiny Colt-45 six shooters of scientific knowledge and gun them down mentally at high noon, showdown style. I was an arrogant ass (maybe still am) of science and youth.

I was able to resist Young Life and Youth Group until I figured out that the winter bible retreat was going to be at Whistler/Blackcomb British Columbia ski resort. I was a ski instructor at the time and I loved to ski more than just about anything. I'm not gonna lie, I sat through two excruciating months of Monday night Young Life meetings singing acoustic guitar accompanied songs and hearing people talk about how awesome Dave Matthews Band was and how awesome Jesus was and all this other stuff that made me really enraged. But I bit my tongue. I knew that if I could just hold it in I would get to go to Whistler Canada to ski at one of the finest skiing locations in the world. Ands so I did. I went on the trip all the way on the bus with a glazed look of ecstasy on my face. I skied my brains out too. I missed prayer circles because I was skiing. Then I was looked down upon by the people who made the prayer circle but also snuck off to smoke a joint at night. I was unChristian for skiing. And on the last night, when they had us bow our heads and close our eyes, asking us to only open them and look at the camp leaders if we wanted to finally accept jesus into our hearts I simply smiled and took a sigh of relief that I wasn't going to have to prove I wasn't a Christian by doing anything more than passively sitting their peacefully with my eyes closed which is all I wanted in the first place. I instead visualized the giant hill of powder on the Blackcomb Glacier I skied down that day with my friends in the sun.

I eventually escaped Gig Harbor. College was enlightening in many different ways. Freedom, new minds, new philosophies, youth, adult learning and better science. I was a biology major. I was comfortable. It was the first place I'd ever been where the "question" of evolution didn't exist. In an educational institution of biological science it is simply accepted as a fairly simple rule of the world that it is happening and it has been forever. Its not a debate, its not a "Intelligent Design" issue. Its simple real science. Just like gravity. But, what was up for debate were the minutiae of the theory itself, just like biblical theory, biologist were exploring with fantastical steadfast earnestness every last detail of how it was happening and finding new and deeper understandings. I was in heaven. College was reality expanding in many ways, but because of other societal norms of appropriateness I'll leave those insights out until another time (I hope Radiate Warmth can eventually include all parts of my life). If their was any inkling that I didn't believe in god it was cemented here. I went to the Athiest/Agnostic club meetings a few times too. They handed apples out on the court of school (the fruit of knowledge) and I thought that was very cool and clever. But the people at the meeting were as obsessed with the absence of "god" as the people who were convinced "god" was real. I think it is around this time I dropped the Atheist tag for explaining myself and started to float the spiritual ocean currents of theories like a jellyfish in the open sea.

Around graduation there were some major spiritual and life hurdles to overcome. I made some pretty sizable mistakes around that time (also would love to share but can't), learned from them as a result, and moved on. I read a lot too. I read Kerouac and Kesey and got introduce to Dharma Bum Buddhism and beat poetry as well as the intellectual, social, racial, sexual and gender revolution of America's past. I got introduced to other less acceptable forms of religion. I eventually moved to the underbelly of Tacoma and grew to know witches, and gypsies, alcoholics, and hippies, hindus, jews, agnostics, homosexuals, drug addicts, and straight edgers. It was then I started to realize that although I was spiritual inside, a passion for being a good person existed, science had no way of defining that part of me in the text books. I started to recognize the need for a spiritual recognition of the meaning of all this mess we call life. The problem was every religion I encountered, every book I read, every corner I turned didn't fit. I started to recognize the need to find a "religion" in a world of Religions I couldn't join.

I started to think a lot about this whole situation. I read things like the Celestine Prophecy, The Secret, and other books that introduced me to energy. Thats right Energy. This stuff that makes up everything around us. You know what you are made of? Science, Christianity, Nature, Buddhism and every other religion combined into one thing you can't deny exists. Balance. Equilibrium. Frequency. Waves. Magnets. Electricity. Fire. Water. Earth. Heartbeat. Love. Beauty.

I had to go back to my child hood. What was my religion? What was my doctrine? What was my explanation? What was my faith? To tell you the truth I finally just came to the realization that how I explain the world in my own head is a combination of infinity and me and isn't anyones business. It can just be my religion. It tells me good and evil. It tells me right and wrong. It explains how things are. And you know what, it doesn't have a name. It doesn't have a god. It just is. I think science is just as whack as christianity and all the other religions. Their prone to doctrine and limits. I simply prefer science because its usually outside where I want to be. This thing, this energy, this god, this spirit, this sun, this mind up in the sky, this feeling, this unending question in everyones minds trying to figure out "What is the meaning of life" and the unending ridiculously personal and individual answers people come up with are all the same thing to me. Its just our way of surviving and making sense of a possibly senseless existence. It is what separates us from all other things. We contemplate meaning. Therefore we believe in things whether they are "true" or not, because in essence, "truth" is made up by us as well.

So when my students ask me, do you believe in god, are you a Christian? It is the most frustrating question I ever get asked. There is nothing I can say to enter into any realm of normalcy for them. They can only comprehend a world of god because that is how they were raised. I'm not right, they're not right, no one is right, except in our own minds. There is no truth that governs over all others. We just are here believing in our own stuff. Its up to you to be a good person, you make decisions based on the need to survive. You can do that through the teachings of Jesus, or Mohammad, or Siddartha, or Albert Einstein, or Da Vinci, or Newton, or your grandpa, or your professor, or your coin flipping, or your stock portfolio, or your .25 acres of track housing or Larry the magical emerald encrusted Snail it really doesn't matter to me. What matters is that you Radiate the Warmth inside you. Where I start to lose my marbles is that I have to accept living in a world where people don't tolerate or even consider the minute incomprehensible imposssssssible no chance in hell possibility that they might not have the ONLY way of being a good person in the world. It makes me depressed, sad and hopeless that anything universally good will ever happen.

But hopelessness is boring. Its got one ending. Tragedy. I used to live in this defeat. Until I moved to a small island in the Bering Sea. Until I moved away from everything I know into another world. Into a place where it seems a community of native people have been almost surgically exacting in their adoption of all the qualities of western culture I seem to go so fully against. And here, only here have I been able to finally think clearly, quietly, about my meaning, my purpose, my understanding, my challenge, my beliefs. And when I sat down and started writing out my thoughts and my feelings and my beliefs it came out on a web page in cyber space, why this medium was chosen is up to the random chaos of the univers. With no possible way of ever completely picking the perfect set of words in my vocabulary to express the infinite wonder, awestruck baffling amusement, joy, tragedy, irony, coincidence, and ultimate meaning to my life I simply picked a childhood memory of the fireplace, the thing that makes me happiest in life, lying in front of a fire in my home, with my family, safe and loved.

The reason this blog is named "RADIATE WARMTH" is because my religion, my belief, my goal, my meaning of life is to be that fireplace for others. I want to radiate the warmth and love of a fireplace to those around me. Thats it. Its that simple. I falter, I fail, but I try. I do my best to Radiate Warmth now. It wasn't always that way. But its my religion. So how do you tell an Eskimo high school student all that? How do you explain all that in 3rd period writing or junior high science? You don't, you just smile, close your eyes, accept them for the possibilities they could be and sigh out all the love you can possibly muster that day in hopes that the energy inside you, the warm light that each one of us has or can create, will some how penetrate that center of their internal processes that will unlock the ability for them to do the same. You call it prayer. I call it nothing. I just sigh.

This is where I am now. This is my beliefs. I'm not asking anyone to believe them. I'm just trying to explain the idea that we are all working things out in our own way, and everyone is equally right, and equally wrong, and I am stuck in the middle. I just know one thing, I feel better when I treat people good. I don't want to feel sick anymore with anger, or depression. Its exhausting. All I had to do to make my switch was make a decision. A decision to Radiate Warmth. So there you go.

I think I'm going to take a break for a couple of days on the blog. Or maybe not. But I need this moment to stand as an important moment in this blog and my life. I want this blog post to stand as a moment where the people that read this get a chance to understand fully what is going on with me. I want this to stand as an accountable moment. It wasn't until I started publicly (like the opening of the eyes at Bible Ski Camp) stating that I want to be a good person, a happy person, that it started happening. As much as I think this blog is for my readers sometimes, it is really for me. If I say that I'm happy, and a good person enough, I will believe it, and you know what, I'm getting there. This blog, however bizarre or impossible it may be that this is what it finally is, has become a sort of manifesto, a document of my existence so that if anything is ever found of me in the future, it will be words of love, expression, humor, and rhythm. I don't even know how to end it other than by saying that I love you guys. I hope you have a good Thursday. And, I'm not sorry for dumping this heaping steaming pile of self reflection on the front lawn of your mental property if it helps people realize its okay to think differently as long as you love. I love words and I love you and I love that we can connect right now through them. Have a moment. I am. Then have a good day, morning, night, evening, afternoon, or midday, rather, have a good life, you can you know?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Humpday Umpdate...NOT!

No Humpday Umpdate today. The musical update would obviously be David Bowie as "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars." If you don't know why then you really need to read the post below from yesterday.

I have about 20-30 readers a day and I only have 11 votes for the Reader's Choice Topic of the Week. SOOOOOO, yeah, um, VOTE ALREADY! Its to the right and down, and you can vote more than once or for more than one choice. Some of you aren't pullin you're weight around here. I'm gonna keep it up till I get 15 votes, then I'll be satisfied that you're being equally represented.

I'm not doing the Umpdate because the post "Bowie's In my Brownies" needs to be read, savored, and commented on.

Good day to you. Thanks commenters and voters.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bowies in my Brownies

When I got home from school and the store I dropped the bags of groceries and I walked straight into my bedroom and flopped onto my bed. My body shut down, my mind went blank and dark, my snow boots hung over the side of the bed dripping melting snow, the light in the room was still on, I pulled a stray pillow over my face and laid there breathing. I didn't even sleep, or nap, or pass out, I just laid there, blank, exhausted. The last two days I have been working harder than normal, I don't really know why, I just know that this is what happened when I got home as a result, I literally pretty much died on my bed. It felt so good to lie there just not thinking. After about 20 minutes of this I started thinking again.
"The apartment is dirty"
"I need to do dishes"
"There is crap laying all over the house"
"I need to fold laundry"
"I should make brownies"
"I want to take a shower"
"What am I gonna eat for dinner?"
"I can't wait to watch my new Netflix movies tonight"
blah blah blah rah rah rah.

So I slowly lurched my rusted frame and mind back to a vertical position, took my boots off, slipped into my fur lined Crocs and went straight to the stereo. The only way to climb out of this insurmountable valley of exhaustion was to put on the perfect music. There was only one man for the job.

His name was David Bowie. I don't know how or why the sweet lord thought it necessary to keep this artist from me my whole life, but now that his music is in my world I said, "BOWIE I CHOOSE YOU to save my apartment from clutter and laziness and Armageddon!" And as the daunting, plodding drums and piano chords of "Five Years" slowly drove forward pushing me along and Bowie as Ziggy Stardust sang about the love that exists in the last five years of humanity before total earth destruction I started decluttering the house thinking "thirty years later Bowie and you're still right."

By the time "Moonage Daydream" hits I'm flying around the apartment organizing, wiping, trashing clutter left and right singing,"I'm an alligator, I'm a mama papa coming for youuuuuu, I'm a space invader, I'll be a rock and roll b***h for youuuuuuuu, keep your mouth Shuu uuuuut. You're squawking like a pink monkey bird And I'm busting up my brains foooooor the words" and so on. The apartment cleaning took on a different purpose...not cleanliness, but rocking the hell out.

Next thing I know the apartment is spotless clean and I'm sloshing water all over the kitchen counter head banging to "Hang on to Yourself" and singing with determination, "But then we move like tigers on VASSeline, Well the bitter comes out better on a stolen guitAAAR, You're the blessed, we're the Spiders from MAAARS UH!"

I finished the dishes fast. I also simultaneously realized that I want to start singing about outer space. I mean, I always sing about emotions, and relationships and all kinds of goopy hippie crap. But, a hippie kid with a big beard and lots of love singing about outer space missions and inter galaxy love stories and the trials and tribulations of time travel spaceship repair would be amazing! I mean hippies love organic, natural stuff and nature, the farthest thing from that is the scifi outerspace NASA spacestation lunar landing aliens and galaxies sort of stuff. If I could mesh it just right so that space felt natural I would finally reach the masses I think. Now the trick is to see if I can actually do it. First I need to capture that "Space Sound" that I admire so much. But this train of thought isn't good for cleaning and may not be healthy at all so I took a break from the hypnotic effect of washing dishes to David Bowie.

I stopped clean ing only once though, to observe the sheer genius that is "Rock and Roll Suicide" and checked email and so one until the song stops and Bowie/Stardust's voice screams out of the silence "OH NO LOVE! YOU'RE NOT ALONE!" Thats farkin' right Bowie, I'm not thanks to you. That line rocketed me out of my seat and I started making brownies ferociously. I stirred the brown goopy goo in the mixing bowl stomping my foot on the linoleum. Unfortunately that's the end of the album and the next artist is David Gray (a good guy to make brownies to don't get me wrong) but after "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" I was looking for something with a little bit more arse kicking potential. So I put on the "Velvet Goldmine" album for the nine hundredth time this week and by the time Placebo's "20th Centurty Boy" kicked in I got my sweet musical release, a full on brownie ROCK OUT! I put the brownie's (with butterscotch chips, cinnamon, and dried cranberries) into the oven and had to sit down to tell you all about it. Which now I have. You might think I'm crazy, thats fine. Until you get these albums and tell me that they don't, in fact, Rock SO HARD, then I don't really want to hear about it. I mean look at the guy, he's kind of a freak, and the fact that he still rocks makes it more impressive.

The brownies are done now and they are delicious. You know why? Because Bowie's in my brownies. Thats right, I said it. Bowie is in my brownies. For the record I'm calling them Bownies.

ALSO if you feel like having a rocking house cleaning I've assembled SIX TASTY CUTS for your musical palette to sample from both Ziggy Stardust and the Soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine. I really hope I'm not the only one who digs these epic tunes, but I'm prepared to walk the road alone (or fly the spaceship by myself).

I haven't really cut loose and let you all have a big laugh at my expense in a while so I hope you enjoyed this rare look into what happens to people if you put them on an island in the Bering Sea for 6 months with no possible chance for making any friends. Let me know if this made you laugh or just generally concerned for my mental state. Happy Tuesday!

Super Fast Lunchtime Report

Quickly, I don't have much time. A few thoughts. One, 3 Musketeers are good candy bars, simple yet effective chocolate delivery. B, I think crunchy peanut butter kicks creamy's arse. Three, I extended the voting a day on the Readers Choice Topic, since we're not getting the voter turnout we used to. Lastly, I think I may have almost saw a crack of sunshine which would be the first in many days.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Monday, See What's Become of my Sunday

Monday, Man. I think the district got their money's worth out of this bearded fool today. I wish that I could give an MVT (Most Valuable Teacher) award to myself (With a teacher out I single handedly tutored, fed snacks to, entertained and babysat about 9 students after a whole day of teaching after school at homework club help session till 5:10!). I had an exhausting day but a good one. I worked my butt off but I feel like I did a good job, especially for a MONDAY! Mondays usually suck. And, as promised, I said I would make some new music. I would write more today but, quite frankly, I'm totally wiped out thank you very much.

OH YEAH I ALMOST FORGOT! 1000 RADIATE WARMTH site visits in just over two months that means about 500 views a month right now! Is that a big deal? I'm not sure.

SO fresh off my mind, heart and hands as of 3 hours ago her is a brand new song "Undertow" Its not really Condusive to the good times but I'll put in on the album of that name. The lyrics are directly below the song. Do you lovely readers listen to these songs? I hope you enjoy them and feel free to give feedback!

I pretty sure that I'm being swept below
The current is going strong
And I feel the undertow,

I'm pretty sure that I am falling down
A road I've been before
I know that it might seem that way to anyone

Don't you cry, dry your eyes on me
And maybe I'll come out
on the other side alright
I'll be fine

Can't you just see the sunshine
Coming up over the skyline
Can't you feel the moon tonight
Can't you see it'll be alright

I'm pretty sure that I am moving towards
the back of the bus
And I don't fear anything at all
You watched me go down quickly in the mud

Don't you stray away from me

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekly Update 3/16

Although it barely seems like my weekend was a weekend at all, its somehow Sunday yet again. And I'll be damned but I'm not really ready for work/class/life tomorrow. But I'm always ready to spread a little joy and love on a blizzardly (i made that word up) Sunday in the form of a good ol fashioned Weekly Update! Yee haw~!

Musical Artist of the Week: You probably all should have seen this one coming but I'm still rocking out SO HARD to the "Velvet Goldmine" soundtrack. My favorite songs are by this band I thought I somehow missed called "The Venus In Furs." Then I did some research and they are actually a Brittish Super Group including Bernard Butler, Clune (David Gray), Jon Greenwood (RADIOHEAD), Paul Kimble, Andy Mackay and Thom Yorke (RADIOHEAD) on the roster. Another band the "Wylde Ratttz" is actually members of Sonic Youth and other grunge rock legends. So on one hand I'm not so upset that I missed a whole decade and genre of music, but on the other hand I was kind of fooled which put me in my musical place. There are also other amazing songs by Brian Eno, Grant Lee Buffalo, Lou Reed, Placebo and others. I just can't stop listening to psychedelic space rock about fictional bisexual outerspace hero rock stars. So sue me. Check it out and tell me I'm wrong, I dare you, triple dogg dare you.

Old Person Phrase of the Week: "MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS" This saying is just flat out hilarious. This is something you say when you see something inappropriate happen. If a flasher exposed himself to you, You could say "My goodnes gracious that was horrible." Or, if someone swears or cusses, "My goodness gracious shut that potty mouth of yours or I'll wash it out with soap!"

Weather On Nunivak: Its spring here on the majestic Nunivak Island...PSYCH! Its freaking blizzarding like a son of a gun out there. 25 mph winds coming directly out of the north, causing a -10 windchill and sideways snow. No planes since the one I miraculously snuck in on. It getting light out till 9:40 now and its messing with my mind.

WebLink of the week: The Celestine Prophecy website I read this book right before I flew to South America to meet my brother to hike to Macchu Picchu. I think the guy who wrote it James Redfield and his wacky wife are both a little off in the head but if you are open minded and take from it the good teachings and leave the crazy stuff there is a lot of really interesting stuff. The website has all their information and where to get the book. But I would just click on the tab for the Insights. Maybe if you're reading this its your time to learn about the Insights! hehehe. Check out this website and make sure you take a grain of salt.

Art Upate: Aaaaaaah I have been slacking. I haven't played guitar for a week and I haven't taken any photos or written my story about Humple or written any poetry. I think, like a building in the forest, I'm being overtaken by creative blocking vines of life's tasks and obligations. I promise I'll pick it up a little bit this week. I did have a student ask me to make them a mix cd of my choosing. I take mix cd's very seriously so I'll have to think on it. If you have any art requests let me know. Songs or drawings or anything. Maybe that could get me going.

ClustRMap Update: By this time tomorrow we will have made over 1000 Radiate Warmth site visits since February 9th. That is sooooo awesome. We need more South American, Asian, Australian, and African readers so keep spreading the word around the world, your thoughts input and support make it worth it!

BIG UPS: You all know her, you all love her comments, thats right, the one who birthed me. Big UPS TO YOU MOM. The care packages this wonderful woman sends me save my life from time to time. There a probably a million things I could give her big ups for but I'm gonna highlight the last international flavors themed Care Package from mom: 1 jar Vegemite (Australia), 1 jar Marmite (Great Brittan), 1 bottle Vietnamese sriracha sauce, two boxes of Tim Tams cookies (Australia), 1 box of Bushnells Australian Tea, two packages of German Chocolate, all of my college alumni magazines, old mail, and a Tom Waits Biography. That right there is a cool mom. MOM Big ups yourself, mad respect and I love you.

Random Old Iverson Pic of the day: This is a picture of me reclining in a tropical Lagoon in Fiji. The water I'm swimming in is non other than the lagoon where they filmed the movie "The Blue Lagoon" I spent a whole day there with a giant smile on my face, my sunburned, zinc covered, tourist assed face.

Iverson Song of the Day:
This one is the last song on the "Conducive to the Goodtimes" Album I'm working on. Its called "Merrily" and its a playful look at an old children's song made even more playful/disturbing by some old photos of me being an idiot.

Last Thoughts: I'm so ready for summer, it has infected me. It looks like I won't be going to High Sierra Music Festival over 4th of July weekend, sooooo does anyone have any awesome plans I can jump on? My parents just got back from Anchorage and they loved it, maybe I'm not crazy Alaska is pretty cool. I can feel these last couple of months are going to be kind of nuts here on the island. Lots of tests for the students to take for the man, lots of assignments due for my college classes for me. Lots of planning and ticket buying and the butterflies are building up and bubbling out of my mouth. I feel like I'm in for one helluva summer. I started thinking about the farther future and I really want to do some traveling soon, global travelling. Maybe after next year I'll be ready to go on an extended adventure. Its sooo hard to stay focused on the fact that life isn't about work and money when you keep working and making money. Sometimes I despise my savings account because it causes possibility problems. Things were so much more simple when I was a broke college student. Growing up can be a bummer. Then I meet great DOJO ninja masters out there kicking the ass out of life at all kinds of ages and I realize I have a lot of rocking left to do. So do you.

Have a great week my friends.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Eek! I made it back

Well I made it back thanks to the amazing people at Eek. Thanks Marlene, Lonnie, Kellerby and everyone else. The two boys I took did really well for their first time. I've never really seen an NYO (Native Youth Olympics) event before. I was soooo cool. One team didn't show so it was a very small meet and very relaxed. The boys did their best and one did very well for his young age and size. The boys were so well behaved that our team got the "Sportsmanship Award" and I didn't even vote for our own team. For all of you non Alaskans the Native Youth Olympics are physical competition events directly linked to survival and traditional motions and skills. Lots of jumping events, stick pulling, and various feats of strength and agility.

The competition was dwarfed by the epic laugh a thon I was involved in last night as me and the two boys tried to fall asleep. It all started with a fart. A simple, natural, passing of gas causing the various digestive parts to let methane gas forth from the bowels sometimes accompanied by a distinctive sound and even more distinctive aroma. Well after two days of cafeteria food my boys were like fart-o-matic 3000 fart machines. As we lay there trying to fall asleep the farts came. At first they were accidental. Pttttttttt! Laughing followed all was well. Then again, ptttttttt. Laughing more, still very amusing. Then a few fake fart noises, not as funny. Then the laughing from me getting mad at fake fart noises caused more laughter and also more farts. There really isn't anything funnier than a fart caused by laughter. So to try and get a handle on the situation I firmly proclaimed, "YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR MOUTHS AND YOUR BUTTS SHUT!" As soon as I said it I realized how ridiculous I was being and started laughing myself. The more I tried to compose myself the harder we all started laughing. More laughing meant more farting. It was a vicious cycle. At this point (20 minutes of flatulence and laughter) I have tears running down my face (from laughing and the noxious fumes) and I'm starting to worry that the boys or myself my lose control of our bladder. When one of the boys said he might pee his pants if he laughs harder that only caused more laughter. Thank goodness we escaped without a pants wetting. The flatulence finally stopped and the laughing ended. We were all so exhausted we fell asleep soon after.

The next day we got our awards and I had to call the Aviation company a bunch to get them to come. I also had to battle a woman to get on the plane. I felt bad but the three open seats were for us, I called the company all morning. She was already going to miss her connection and you know what, its Alaska, survival of the fittest, or fartyest, or whatever. Besides, I think I'm getting better at being Alaskan. Its warm, hospitable and also cut throat and cold. You have to find the right time to help and the right time to take care of yer own.

It wasn't a bad trip at all. I got to eat some seal and caribou and salmon. I love native food. I love seeing other villages, and I love when the flights are on time and painless. A miraculous trip all together. Check out the flying Douglas as I now call him

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eek, where I am on overalls Friday.

Yes tonight I'll be sleeping on the floor of a classroom at the Eek School as far away as geometrically possible from two flatulent elementary school boys as their chaperon for their first Native Youth Olympics meet. I'll write more about it later with pictures to boot, but so you all know this overalls Friday I'm in the village of Eek (means eyes) rocking my overalls and its not sooo bad. I'm fairly certain we'll get stuck tomorrow due to weather and my opinion may change then. But for now its okay.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Days of Fury

If you've read this blog for a while you've possibly heard this before. If some one asked me to shortly describe what its like to teach here, I would say "Like continually taking one step forward, and three steps back." Yesterday I wrote about a pretty good day at school (two steps forward) but today was school wide pandemonium erased all the positive work (three steps back). The problem is that I can't write about my kids, because, well, um...., they read this blog, they might even be reading it now. So I am going to generalize and not single anyone out.

Currently there are several things going on in our high school. We have had four new students this semester. When your high school has eleven students, the addition of four new ones (all very unique characters int their own way) has a major effect on the social network of personalities and relationships. My high school isn't like ones you can imagine. There aren't jocks, or art kids, or nerds or cheerleaders. There are just 15 or so kids stuck in a tiny school together for seven painful periods of what I can only imagine must resemble a sizable mountain of nonsensical tasks. What I'm really saying is that people are starting to get on people's nerves, students on teachers, teachers on students, students on students, teachers on teachers. Today it all kind of materialized at once. We had student crisis after student crisis today. These crisis ranged from family problems, friendship feuds, flying soccer balls to the face, and unfinished projects. Everyone one was off today. A ripple of something weary and peculiar was wafting through the air, I was lucky enough to pick up on it early and abandoned a biology lesson that I am fairly certain would have ended in disaster. Instead I popped in a Planet Earth Movie episode on the jungle and hoped it would calm everyone down.

It is sooooo frustrating to spend so much time with a student, work so hard to help them, try to figure out exactly how you can help them learn and enjoy their limitless lives, and then have to give them up to the real world for the rest of the time knowing that almost all the work that you just did trying to build them up will have to be fixed and repaired first thing the next day because the life that they live in just tore them apart and spit them out again. I just remember those teen age times when life outside of school dwarfed school so much. We seem to think or demand or expect that what we asked them to do is so important and meaningful when in reality their life experience might be more guttural, more visceral and more grounded in survival then our little worksheets, lessons, and essays will ever be. Sometimes I don't want to teach my students anything school related, I just want to hang out with them, teach them how to be happy in life, how to blow off steam, how to relax, how to chill out, how to talk things out, how to help others, how to do all these things that actually matter because, quite frankly I'm getting really sick of asking kids with much bigger problems in life than I can ever imagine, to fill in the blanks, circle the best answers and write a 500 word essay on who gives a flying crap.

So the reason I'm writing about this is not only do I need to reflect and express my struggle so that I can preserve my own sanity, I also hope that a student will read it, understand it someday, and pass it on to the other students and say, "Mr. Iverson gets it, he gets us, and he's not against us, he's trying to help." I'm not saying all teachers aren't doing their best, but I've known some who weren't, but what I'm saying is that more than not, I know a lot of teachers that are afraid to let their students know they are real people too, with problems, quirks, struggles, troubles, victories, and feelings. I don't really know where this is all going actually, I just started writing about the crazy day and I'm not even sure there is an answer in it. I'm not sure there will ever be. I don't know how to explain this unbelievable experience that I'm going through. There must be a reason, a lesson in all of this, and I'm slowly starting to realize that everyday I try to make a difference one day, one student, one period, one smile, one hope at a time and simultaneously realizing that I am a salmon swimming up an incredibly strong, raging, and clouded river.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Humpday Umpdate 3/12

This week has been a crazy kind of grind. Every night I am battling to fall asleep, losing last night finally falling asleep around 2:15 am. More on that in a bit.

Musical Artist Update: Last weekend I saw VAMPIRE WEEKEND play two songs as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Their sound was so bizarre and intoxicating that I felt I need immediate gratification. I went right on to iTunes and 5 minutes and 10 dollars later I had the album. Sometimes I buy albums and feel bad. Sometimes I buy albums and they just keep getting better. Vampire Weekend was a miracle purchase, I love accidentally stumbling upon awesome bands. Their self titled debut album is a Freshman masterpiece. The best way I can describe their unique sound is that if you mixed a healthy heaping dose of Paul Simon (in his African Drumming solo years) with a mounded helping of Baroque Period Symphony, then added a sprinkling of Irish Drinking Punk Music and a table spoon of Surf Rock; then whisk spastically in to a fluffy parfait of Cape Cod elite satirizing art deco indi kids and mold to liking. Then you would get this peculiarly addictive band and their sound. Hopefully you like it, there is swearing on some songs on the album but the ones I've included are clean.

Schoolio Thymes: It seems the kids are way over extended at the moment. There is soooo much homework flying around the hallway, afterschool programs, and what not, I find myself trying not to over do it with the assignments. To break up the monotony I did a microscope rotation lesson today that had the kids examining various reproductive structures of gymnosperms and angiosperms (conifers and flowering plants). It was funny because at a couple of times the super close ups of the ovaries and pollen tubes seemed partly pornographic. We even looked at a "Corn Smut" cross section (what the slide was labeled as) and we called it "CORN PORN" which I thought was pretty funny. Every 13 minutes we rotated to a new station and it was just right, everyone was on task, working in teams and seemed engaged drawing and labeling what they saw. So for all of you teachers out there, my biology assessments of student understanding this week have included a traditional read and answer from 4 pages in the textbook, a art project designing your own flower with labeled parts, and a guided instruction team exploratory lab focussed on using a microscope to observe and aid in drawing cross sections of various vegetative reproductive structures. GO DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION! Yes it can be done, learning for every type of learner, but I don't plan it that way, every once in a while I just get good ideas like this. If I could teach a college class in education it would be on self energy preservation tactics and improvisational teaching technique.

I started teaching the whole Junior High and High School student body Physical Education (PE) today also. It went really well. We laughed a lot, we got a sweat going, and we had a lot of fun and I got to wear basketball shorts and blow a whistle which is always a power rush.

AMAZING MOVIES I JUST SAW: I'm officially tooot toooooooting the horn on my Netflix Skills. One might think I'm losing touch with my "out there art world" connection being here. I beg to differ. I just want to quickly give some mad props, big ups, kudos and thank you's to three movies I saw lately. ONE: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." This movie is freaking nuts, in your face, graphic, homosexual, transgendered hard core rock amazement. Basically its about a German Drag Queen Rock singer and her crazy band as they chase after his/her rock star boyfriend who stole the songs they wrote together while in love. This movie is adapted from a musical so...If you are soooo uncomfortable with men kissing scenes that you can't appreciate the monumentally fantastic and incredible ROCK N ROLL and acting in this movie, I understand, but you should also get over it.

If you can handle this very intense movie, then you'll no doubt be able to stomach and enjoy another bisexually blatant cinematic gem called "Velvet Goldmine." This is basically one of the most incredible movies I've ever seen. Follow talented lipsynching Jonathan Rehes Meyers, Christian Bale, and Ewan McGregor through the 70's and 80's glitter rock era that mirrors David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust/Elton John and then through the death of glitter rock and the birth of grunge. The performances, sets, costumes and musical scenes are unbelievable and I was constantly going "NO FARKIN WAY!!!" through the whole movie. I don't have even a minor problem watching movies in this "genre" called gay film (which I think is bogus they should be in the genre "amazing movies") but if you don't watch these movies then steer clear of this one...actually, its the 21st century, get off your high horse and watch them because they ROCK. If there is one thing I can't tolerate it is people who disrespect people of other sexual preferences. So let it be known now that "Radiate Warmth" means Radiate Warmth to EVERYONE, maybe if more straight people treated everyone like human beings then the rest of us straight people wouldn't have to work double time cleaning up the mess and restoring the straight name to one of compassion, tolerance and love.

In the non gay film but still musical movie category I watched "ONCE" recommended by a friend and not only did I love this movie, I may or may not have shed a tear at the end. This movie follows one incredible week of a struggling Irish street musician in Dublin and finding his inspiration to record a magical record in a the friendship of a Croatian piano playing single mother. The music they make together made me want to quit my job and move to Europe to become a street performer.
I didn't plan on ordering three movies of this musical nature but they kind of revived my once deep hatred for musical movies. (Grease, Hairspray, and others...)

So if you're on the three Netflix a month plan, get "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Velvet Goldmine" and "Once" and have yourself a movie musical party with other cool people who can handle this level of awesome. PLEASE DO NOT SHOW THE FIRST TWO MOVIES TO THE KIDS and don't watch them if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, also these movies are pretty messed up but if you can handle it then give them a try (there is a lot of sex, drugs and rock n roll so you know).

Last but not least: I heard that this site is loading slowly. This is probably because of all the music video posting. I'm gonna cut that to twice a week. I'm also gonna cut the amount of posts on the front page so make sure you go to "OLDER POSTS" at the bottom if you want to see more back logged posts. I took a photo album slide show off also. Hopefully this helps!

You can vote for Readers Choice Topic 8 now if you like.

We set a new record here on RW of 49 visitors in one day a couple of days ago! So if you're reading this you are not alone!

Well we made it halfway to Fridaysia. I'm taking two elementary boys as chaperone to Native Youth Olympics competition in the village of Eek on Friday so that should be interesting fodder for some new thoughts, unfortunately it will continue my sleepless in Alaska streak lately I fear.


Three words to live by: BE GOOD FAMILY

(Thanks Reese for the idea) If you could choose three words to describe yourself what would they be?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Abuse Day

Man, I am freaking tired. The daylights savings time has crippled me some how. It was light out till at least 9:45 last night. Its affecting the kids too. Class has been going okay this week but the long days have been wearing me out. Tomorrow is the first day of Physical Education and I'm excited to start getting back into some regular physical routine.

Iverson Photos of the Day: Both of these photos are from the Heavens Edge Resort at the top of the Mountain outside of Nadi, Fiji. The group photo is the entire family that I stayed with. The resort had only been open a week and the only regret I have of the photo is that the tool looking guy on the left showed up on my last day because I told him about it on the boat 5 days earlier. I wish he wasn't in the photo, I didn't like him. The other photo is of me taking a rest while on a wild pig hunt through the rainforest earlier in the week. Contrary to stories I like to tell, I never really caught or killed a pig. The memory has been embellished in my mind over time. But, I like to pretend I did. It was exciting walking around the jungle with a spear and a machete though.

The Song is "Conducive to the Good Times" and is the title track of the album. I wrote it about this New Years Eve at the Flowmotion show at the Tractor.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Readers Choice Topic 7: The Drive to WSU

I know that this readers choice topic is a bit unfair to non Washington State University alumni and students. The thing is that I think it will be interesting to most people and funny to those who have done it themselves.

My parents went to WSU. My Uncle, several cousins, and many family friends went to WSU. I went to WSU. My brother still goes to WSU. All of these people have experienced the physical and mental gauntlet I am about to lay before you. If you add up moving in, thanksgiving breaks, christmas breaks, spring breaks, easter breaks and summer breaks plus a couple miscellaneous breaks, I must have made this cross state journey 6 or more times a year for 4 years of my life. I know it from memory, every turn, every cop trap, every pass. I want to reveal it to you.

As a neutral starting point I will use Tacoma, Washington as a midpoint on the I-5 corridor to start this voyage. From Tacoma in the western Puget Sound region of Washington to Pullman Washington 8 miles from the Idaho border lies approximately 300 miles of treacherous, mountainous, barren, endless miles of insanity. 300 divided by 60 mph average should lend the trip in about 5 hours, although that is a good time for the trip. I've made it in 4 hours and 20 minutes as a personal record speeding the whole way and I've heard stories of pass closure that round the trip out at 20 or more hours. No matter how you drive it, its gonna suck.

Lets review the supplies you'll need for the trip. Energy drinks, check. beef jerky, check. iPod or cd wallet, check. Batteries, check. Nicotine, check. Oil level, check. Gas, check. Chips/candy/munchables, check. A whole bunch of other peoples CRAP you're transporting, unfortunately CHECK. Okay, so now that the old family truckster (In my case a Subaru Staion wagon) is packed to the brim with stupid college cargo and slacker stinking booger picking garbage leaving in the car farting friends are all piled in lets go!

The first obstacle of the journey begins right away as you exit I-5 for the winding and windy Highway 18 off of exit 42A. Everyone wave hello to Enchanted Village and Wild Waves Waterpark as you go buy, that place is a rip off but pretty fun. Highway 18 has been under construction since the late Jurassic Period so expect some sort of friggin delay no matter what. Also, the truckers drive like madmen, the state troopers are jerks, and the cross lighting from the oncoming lanes is BLINDING so watch out. Don't speed more than 6 mph over the speed limit or you will get pulled over and no one, especially your squinty eyed friend in the backseat, wants that. If you do get a ticket, contest it and explain to the judge that a Semi Truck was bearing down on you and you had no choice to speed, this excuse has been known to work before. Tiger Mountain Summit is only 1500 feet or so but it can be a cop trap and a tricky navigation in the snow. I wrecked my subaru on the Black Diamond Road overpass on black ice early in the morning so keep you eyes peeled and pay attention you slacker!

In forty short hair raising minutes you'll merge to the major artery to interior Washington, the 4 lanes of Intersate 90. This is like merging onto the Audubon, 70 mph and cops are sparce all the way to Ellensburg. After you accelerate to a cruising speed of 80 mph (if your chariot can handle that type of momentum) you have one last chance to stop for supplies in North Bend, a sleepy yuppy town with outlet malls, overpriced gas and, on concert weekends, $9.00 cheeseburgers at fast food restaurants. Never the less when you gotta go you gotta go. I suggest the Chevron for bathroom facilities and the Taco Time is harmless. If you can keep on the road then its gonna be clear sailing for a while. You got another 30 miles to the Snowqualmie Pass. The plant life is still very northwestern evergreen and the mountains partially snowcapped most times of year.

Snoqualmie pass is a fickle foe. When you near it you'll see the the avalanche gun pointing up to the steep rocky crags and the cascading sometimes frozen waterfalls. The pass isn't actually that bad. I've never actually been stopped or asked to put on chains. But, many many unfortunate fools have. I drive a subaru and its not usually an issue. You're definitely gonna wanna slow down in the snow but in the summer you can fly right through. If you're not in a hurry take an exit, stretch you legs, and get some snacks at the cafe convenience store between Summit West and Summit Central. Sometimes that cool mountain air is just what you need to wake you up for the drive. Ok got a fresh stick of cocktail pepperoni? Lets get some driving done!

So now you're cruising down a slight incline past dried up stumpy Lake Kachess on your way to Ellensburg. You'll see the evergreen trees start to change into mountain pines. Be careful coming out of the mountains, theres a lot of State Trooper traps so keep it 5 above at the max. Cle Elum is a scary small town that will take you a half an hour to drive through so I avoid it. When I was a kid there used to be a cattle stockyard coming into E-Burg and it smelled so bad like cows and death that often times it would elicit a gag reflex upon passing. Now its gone but the town still stinks in my opinion. There are a lot of gas stations and fast food joints and unless you desperately need these things don't stop here, it'll eat up your time. Unfortunately this is the last thing resembling civilization for quite a while so you better make a decision.

After you cruise through E-Burg you start a winding gentle down grade from Indian John Hill all the way down 2,000 feet to the mighty and white capped Columbia River. This hill can often be icey or shrouded in fog. One time Kyle Dufault pictured below at graduation were driving the other way in an outer space time warp of white pea soup fog when suddenly it just opened to sun. It was like shooting out of a white cannon. At the bottom of this long hill (which you can coast in neutral to save gas) is Vantage, with two gas stations and a place to swim in the summer. You cross the bridge and at the end you exit the mighty speeding Interstate 90 for a new tumultuous nemesis of a Highway, the dreaded and treacherous Highway 26.

As soon as you exit it starts to suck. The lanes narrow, there's no median, and you start up a steep incline past the sand dunes out of the valley. Get USED TO IT, you're gonna be on this son of gun for 133 miles of hell. Now, this is freaking crucial, DO NOT SPEED coming up or down this hill of hell. There are multiple blind corners and cop traps. The cops have heard every excuse in the book and will write you a ticket, so hot shot, just slow down and save yourself a trip to some stupid hick jail. Once you escape from these costly curves it flattens out immediately. Welcome to the desert of the Columbia Basin. Its gonna get real flat and real straight for about 3 hours. Oh and trees, forget about em, its only alfalfa, sagebrush, onions, apples, and double wides for a long time.

Oh of course you'll pass through "Towns" but they're really snot globules of humanity. Royal City isn't really royal, it should be renamed Bowel City, or Bowel Movement City. Its got gas station but I always feel like I'm gonna get beaten up here so be careful. Oh and also this stretch between Royal City and the worst town in the world is laden with stinking state troopers with radar that will flip a u turn and pull you over. This usually happens when you've been stuck behind some hick in a Winnabago for about half an hour and when you finally decide to pass they clock you right as you're decelerating. But if you've made it this far you're doing as well as most. I call this point most people switch drivers if they can. Many young rookies and first time trippers will stop in the biggest armpit of a town Washington has to offer. Othello, which is a disgrace to Shakespeare's play, is referred to by me as OSMELLHOLE, OHellhole, or OSmello. I hate this town, so much. I have personally been in two different cars that have broken down here. If you break down here you're skrewed. You might as well sell you car to the local junk yard for $200 bucks cuz its never gonna make it out of their running. They know they got you and you aren't about to pay the $500 smackers to get it towed to reality. There is a couple of gas stations and a burger king but don't let that entice you. Just go ahead....slowly.

If you make it through here you've reached the Straight of Insanity, a bone chilling hour long straight away that ends in some hairpin turns sandwiched between Greek Letter Graffiti laden rocks. Again, watch out for troopers. You will see the giant barns with the "Go Cougs" spelled out in giant letters that seem to say "Keep Going, ice cold refreshments await you in the sacred city!" So you press on. Hey big deal coming up, the wonderful city of WASHTUCNA. Psych. This tiny little town is quiet and harmless. The old school gas station and gift shop is favorite stop of mine because I like to get out and stretch my legs and smell the sage brush. Also, if you notice the mile markers start counting up or down to zero depending on whether you're coming or going.

By this time the people in the car have stopped the conversation. Garbage is piling up in the car. All the pleasantries are over. You're fully emersed in each others stench. You're going on about 4 hours now and people snap at this time sometimes. Backs and butts start to ache, nerves get thin, music doesn't sound as sweet. This is a good time to put on a spacey psychedelic mix and just space out for a while. People who don't smoke start to in this barren desert as a substitute for something to pass the time. People usually fall asleep here too so if your driving try to get the shotgun copilot to watch your back unless you just slammed a Redbull and you're Jacked Up.

It almost seems unfair, but at the end of this sleepy stretch is your greatest concern for legal intervention. I spoke of a hellhole called Othello before, but I was exaggerating, read my words clear now as the sunshine of the day, DO NOT SKREW WITH COLFAX!!! They will take you downtown to the County courthouse right on mainstreet. The speed limits drops from 55 to 25 in like 100 feet so you better wake up and get your game face on. If you go so much as 3 miles over 25 in town you will be pulled over. They even have Subaru Outback cop cars for the winter. Colfax is a maindrag town and if you can avoid gassing up for another 13 miles turn right at the fairgrounds before town. This shortcut will spit you out behind the town by the hospital an you'll avoid the majority of the in bounch cop traps. These are town cops now, not troopers, whole different situation so if you get pulled over just take your medicine and move along knowing that 90% of the towns revenue comes from your little 4 mph mistake. I know a couple good folk from this town so I can't talk bad about it but I can say it sucks to drive through, its like the oracle in the NeverEnding story, you just have to get through with out fear entering your heart or those freakin bastards will shoot you with their shiny lazer beam breasts of the traffic law. Be careful as you exit town also.

Okay! You're in the home stretch 13 miles to go. Its like that last lap when you ran the mile for your first time, it aches and hurts but the end is near. And the best part is when you turn off towards Pullman the bright shining lights of an entire academic institution founded farm community and collegiate metropolis in the middle of a wheat field palouse dedicated to sub par football teams, kegs, and below average educational standards sits heaven. It glows in the night, you've made it. You're either coming home, just getting there, or, God help you, visiting. Either way there is a frosty cold refreshment waiting for you and the guaranteed insanity that is Pullman Washington.
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