November 2009 Archives

November 22, 2009

In reflecting on the clothes I wore 10 to 15 years ago, I am thinking of my life in 1994.  I had just finished a consulting job that involved legislative lobbying, so I had worn a suit part of the time for that work, a conservative gray suit.  I also had a part-time job at a financial research firm for which I wore casual clothes, like dockers, a plain color and collared shirt and usually a sweater.  A friend had gotten me the latter job part time as I had just been divorced and I was on hard times regarding income.  I did not like it and left after two months.

By June of that year, my consulting work had ended.  I was unemployed and seeking work as an environmental consultant or as an instructor in teaching college courses in environmental science which I had done a couple of times during the period 1991 through 1993.   I liked teaching and wanted to do that the most, so dressed for interviewing with colleges.  I usually wore khaki Dockers, a blue blazer, a blue button down shirt and modest tie to interview for teaching positions.  I had read about blue being a very favorable color for first interviews in a book titled "What Color is Your Parachute," by Willam Boyles, I think I have the author right, and I liked blue anyway.  I also wore the same outfit interviewing for agency and consulting firm jobs.

That summer I had several let downs in consulting firm job applications but had sent a number of resumes out to colleges.  I was at a low point for the late summer and spent days going to parks and coffee shops to read and write in a journal.  The days were lonely as most people I knew were working.  I dressed simply in khakis, a collared shirt and an old sports coat, trying to keep my identity as an intellectual, continuing teacher aspirant, and a reader and writer.  I would go to a park with a lawn chair, book and journal bag, and my dog and sit for hours at a time reading and writing.  I was broke and living on a credit card, but keep a routine and appearance like a working person. 

One job fell through that had looked really promising and I sank in spirit in late July.  My hair started to thin out, I began to face looking older and less attractive.  The clothes then  became even more of a prop.  A high point came a month later.  I visited my sister in Colorado, landed a teaching job here in the Twin Cities, for fall of 1994, one class in environmental studies, and began to grab onto my work as my chance to build a new life at that time.  While visiting my sister, I went to Rocky Mountain National Park and took lots of pictures for my classroom presentations, bought new books in my field at the University of Colorado bookstore, and came back lifted up in spirits.  My sister bought me some new clothes.   I and was able to gain ground wih my teaching that fall even though there were some bumps with students over environmental issues and some wrestles I was having about best teaching practices.  But, everything built steadily, I enjoyed good relations with the school and they gave me more classes.  Other schools contacted me and I got full-time teaching a year later as an adjunct instructor at four different schools.  I developed a uniform of khaki dockers and three sports coats which I wore out but kept wearing.  I took them to a tailor for mending and made do with them as long as I could.  Each year my sister gave me and still does give me clothes, usually a sports jacket and shirts at Christmas time.  I was and still am the poorest person in my family and the least economically successful and use clothes in part to counter that.  I may be poor but will look good and boost my feelings and esteem by not looking like I am poor.

I have been remarried since 2003, after dating my wife for 6 years before that.  She is a very thrifty shopper and buys my clothes at rock bottom prices and has even called me on the phone to alert me to sales.  I had a beloved green wool sports jacket my sister had given me, which my wife eventually told me I had to stop wearing for work, as she said it was just getting too worn out.  However, she then found a great Land's End sports coat similar to it, made in China, that was on sale for $20.  I bought two of them after we talked by phone and I had pulled into Har mar Mall to check out a Land's End there.  I don't know who said it but I remember hearing a phrase that "clothes don't make a man, but they don't hurt either."

My other get up, in my wife's words is the "outback" look, with cargo pants, polar fleece, field vest, 6 gadgets on my belt (cell phone, digital camera, digital voice recorder, Swiss Army Knife, Wave Leatherman all-purpose tool in one), with a Fedora wide brim hat that i have had since fall 1995 when I started teaching full-time.  I wear all the belt gadgets and the Fedora whether I am teaching in the classroom or in then field.  Add to this memory sticks on a neck lanyard and pocket journals and I am in my instructor mode.  Maybe these are all external props that are a buttress against a later life identity crisis or at least on-going growth and development. I am probably like most people, a perpetual work in progress, on the long journey of life, and have my foibles, but life is still rewarding and it is taking the journey that is the most important part, so if clothes can help us, if they are fun, and it is not excessive, why not.

My wife also has educated me on thrift stores and there are a number of them on the East Side of St. Paul.  We go there to buy toys for our grandchildren and some of our clothes.  I have found some great sports coats for prices ranging from $7.50 to $19.95, some of them beautiful wool tweads made from imported Scottish wool.  I imagine sometimes the person who must have had the coat that I buy at the thrift stores.  Was it a fellow who passed on, or a kid who outgrew the coat, or didn't like the style any more?  Then I think of how I will want my clothes disposed of when I am gone.  I am thinking that it would only be fair if I gave them back to an thrift store or a church rummage sale when thatb time comes.  Hopefully, that will be a ways off into the future and I will enjoy them for now.

My students are all casual.  I am there with them.  If I were full-time as a student, I would, and have dressed in comfortable clothes, leaning towards the "outback" and geoscience look.  I think clothes are a lot of fun, and even if one does not have much money and can only afford a few things, it is a okay way to express oneself and their individuality.  Every once and a while one of my students will dress very nicely for class, wear a cool hat, have an outrageous shirt, or newly dyed hair color.  Its good to see them do this and I think that dressing nicely and having a style makes it fun for others.  I really like to have my wife dress nicely and she is a phenomenal bargin hunter and can do this without going broke.

I have seen pictures of Africa and the people there who live in small rural villages, where they work hard and do much physical work, yet the women dress beautifully and in bright colored clothes.  At the church my wife and I currently attend, there are many Africans from places like Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya.  They dress in beautiful tradition African robes and clothes for our sunday services.  I can't help but think that it is a universal human desire to dress as well as one can and to present oneself as a visual gift in part to others, and at church for God.  Yes, life is much more than the visual, but often the inner and outer person are a true interplay, one's appearance, and the personhood they have. Beauty can be both within and without in the same person and everyone has clothes and style that are their favorites, that they find joy in wearing as part of expressing themselves and being with others.

Thank you for letting me share this with you.  I look forward to reading you entry and thank you for taking a moment to read mine.  Best to you and a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.  And have some fun wearing your holiday clothes!

Sincerely,

John 

 

  

November 15, 2009

I was born in 1949 so part of looking at the toys I played with is thinking a long way back in time.  However, I am now a step-grandparent with grandsons aged 9 months, 11 months, 2.7 years and a granddaughter 3.5 years old.   I have the kind of magical moment of remembering my own childhood as my wife and I take care of our grandchildren together.  I remember toys I played with including things like a British made series called "Dinky Toys" which were really detailed cars and trucks made in exact detailed replicas of real cars and trucks.  I was fascinated by cars and trucks.  I see this same connection as my wife and I buy cars and trucks for my grandsons and granddaughter, as well as other toys.  We get some cool ones at Cub Grocery store: PT Cruisers, pick up trucks, tractors, race cars and Hummers and so on that our grandsons play with.  We also go to thrift stores where we live on the east side of St. Paul and have bought some Tonka trucks and tractors that the boys play outside with during summer.  We get a bag of sand and let them load the dump trucks up, haul the sand and then dump a load, and haul some more.  It helps me remember the wooden sand box my parents had for me, my sister and younger brother when we were growing up.  Since their grandfather is a semi-retired farmer, we feel that it is in part learning about machines that are part of their family's world.  My oldest step-grandson does ride on a real tractor with his grandfather and his Dad helping get the fall harvest in.  This is an important part of my oldest grandson's world and indentity.  My wife and I bought him a small John Deere tractor and trailer at Fleet Farm that runs on a 12 volt battery and he drives it and helps me pick up sticks and brush in our back yard and haul it out to our brush pile and composter.  He takes this very seriously and is a hard worker.  My granddaughter also enjoys driving this tractor.

When we are not doing lawn work, my wife gets my oldest grandson set up hauling sand, which we pretend is corn, to a large cardboard box out in the back yard which we have called a barn.  My wife has a wooden doll her grandfather made her as a child which we put inside and tell my grandson that it is a cow and that we have to haul "corn" from the sandbox to feed the cow in the barn.  He gets going with that for a while and then it is usually time to take him down the block to the elementary school play ground where he climbs the jungle jim, slides and we push him on the swing.

When I think more about my childhood and my toys I had I fondly remember my electric trains.  First, I had a hand me down Lionell train set from an older cousin who was ten years older than me.  I enoyed it a lot, and then 3 to 4 years later while spending part of a summer with my grandmother and step grandfather out on the east coast, they bought me a small HO gauge electric train which I really loved.  It was a simple engine with three passenger cras and an oval track.  Over the next 4 years or so, my grandparents and parents got me more track for this, more train cars and more locomotives.  I loved these trains.  Now that my grandchildren are getting older, I have begun to think about the next stage of toys.  My own fascination with electric trains has recently got me into Hubbs Hobby Stores, where I was a kid all over again.  The store had everything under the sun in the way of plastic models of ships, planes, cars, trucks, tanks, and I had a trip down memory lane. 

I also found electric train sets, flying model airplanes, model ships, sailboats, and was mesmerized by it all.  I had to pull back a bit and refrained from buying anything at the time.  But I have been thinking about it ever since.  I kind of thought I would buy a starter train set in the next year or so.  Right now, my wife and I have bought some affordable Thomas the Train sets at Target and a lot of track so we can cover our living room floor area that is open, about 6 by 6 feet.  Our two grandsons that we baby sit the most often are just a bit young to manage this responsibly alone without getting too rough with the trains.  They are getting there gradually.  We watch the Thomas the Train DVDs with them and they are engrossed in the stories.  The engines and train cars in the sets we have got for them at this time are a little smaller than HO gauge.  So much comes back to me in playing with them and it is an amazing experience for me as I play with and take care of them as a step grandparent.  I never had children so it is an especially rewarding experience for me at this point in my life, one of my most joyful, especially as it is also a wonderful team effort with my wife.

So, I got thinking, what is it about toy trains that makes them so appealing?  Part of it has to be the fun that Dads have getting to play with their childhood toys again and re-live part of their youth.  For kids, it is a miniature world that I think is so appealing because they are in control of it, taking care of this little miniature world.  Trains may be a phallic symbol as well, maybe that is a part of it, though I had not ever thought about it prior to this assignment.  I lived as a child playing with electric trains in a small midwest town an hour south of Chicago.  We could take the train from a couple of nearby towns, within 20 minutes driving time to Chicago and we did this, as well as drive by car, to visit my grandfather and my stepgrandmother and my great grandmother in Chicago.  Several trains a day went through my home town.  At night I could hear their low sounding horn and their rumbling along. The sounds were familiar and comforting.  Today, living on the near East Side of St. Paul, I hear a couple of rail lines and the river front switch yard engines and trains at night.  I have deep sense of comfort in hearing their sounds, it must go all the way back to times before I could talk as a child.  I think trains, cars, trucks and other toys also represent travel and adventure for children, that it is a prelude to having the ability to one day travel to any place they would like, as they see their parents do with them as they grow up.

Can we have trains and cars of the future that don't emit greenhouse gases?  Will our children have the mobility that we have?  I hope to be able to play with my grandchildren at a future date with the solar hydrogen car that I bought on sale at Penny's two years ago.  It runs on sunlight and water. 

I hear the rumble of a distant diesel electric engine now, as our house is quiet and the hour is late.  Soft comforting sounds, like each person, maybe, working hard to pull our weight and move along the paths of life that are openning before us.  I look forward to the journey, and maybe some day a ride on the wonderful trains out west that run from Denver to Seattle winding through the Rockies and across the west.  

Best to you and I look forward to reading your blog also,

John

 

CI 5150 Posting for Food in Culture for November 1, 2009

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November 2, 2009

This post is late.  I was making it about 2 hours ago, but when I had completed the first entry and went to save it, I was directed to the log in as I had been timed out.  I lost my entry completely and had no back up for it.  At that point I was chagrined, but do not regret the loss as I had stopped to have lunch at a sit down meal with my wife, stepson and 11 month old grandson for the first meal together at home in quite some time.  Well worth it to have to redo the blog entry.  It was a full meal, baked ham, red potatoes, green beans, brocoli, and home made applesauce from fresh picked apples that my wife had made last week.

We enjoyed fellowship as well and lingered over the meal before my grandson wanted to get down and play and my stepson went back outside to finish up work on a brick patio he is building for us.  My wife and I have a small house and the purpose of the patio, which connects with another one built two years ago in our back yard is to be able to entertain more of my wife's family and our grandchildren for cookouts during nice weather.  Our house is very small and it is hard to set up for all of our family and have any space to serve a meal, let alone have everyone sit down.

Eating together is a sacred event and many of us have to fight to keep this tradition viable.  My wife and I both work at night, afternoon to evening, and breakfast and lunch are our two meals we can have together before I am off for night classes at my college and she is off to the hospital where she is a nurse. 

While we may have a quick meal at McDonald's on a road trip to see our parents, in Illinois or in Oklahoma or Indiana, we delight in a candle light dinner at home.  A few years back we had one night out a month for a restuarant meal and a concert at the Ordway or MN Orchestra, but with money tight and 4 grandchildren, we are having many more dine in events for family, either with my step children, our grandchildren, or both, and it is really satisfying and sustaining. My wife and I share in the food preparation and serving, and that time as well is very nice, as  we share and catch up with each other.   For both of us it reminds us of growing up in the 1950s where the whole family sat down for dinner in the dining room and ate together every evening with few exceptions.  My wife and I light a scented candle even in the daytime and if it is night time, we have an assortment of candles that we light and them turn the electric lights off.   If we aren't working we may also have a glass of wine. 

As a child, my mother prepared dinner and asked me to light the candles in the dining room just before we sat down to eat.  Some of my fondest memories are of having dinner with my family and enjoying both eating and sharing about our day and what we had experienced.  We ate at 6:00 p.m. after the evening news and after dinner it was upstairs to do my homework until bed time or from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.  My mom did not work so this was more fully possible to have meals together than for most of us today.  My wife and I always go out for lunch at Panera after church and on a special occassion or a payday will go to a restuarant for a meal, favorites include Vietnamese, Thai, or contemporary American, a favorite being Sunsets Restuarant out in Woodbury.   We are modest in our picks from the menu on price but enjoy both the time together and the enjoyment of eating the food and savoring it.

I think of this as community, fellowship, sustaining our identity as a couple and family.  I think our fast paced society and crazy work schedules can cut into time people have to get together for a meal with each other.  I also have friends that I get together with for coffee, a glass of wine, or a meal or combinations thereof that are very imporatnt fellowship times together.  One friend of mine is very well read, he was a double major in history and literature and we can meet over food and drink and talk for an easy 3 to 4 hours, part of which in good weather can start having some food and coffee at an establishment and then adjourns to a long walk around Highland Park in St. Paul, with coffees to go in hand and sometimes another at the half way point around St. Cate's at a Caribou at Randolph and Fairview.  In lesser weather we parouse books, music, DVDs, and magazines at Barnes and Nobles or Half Price books.  We make it kind of like a moveable feast of snacks and coffee, filled with discussions on topics related to an Earth Stewardhsip class we teach at a church where I met him 15 years ago.   I join him for these events and discourse on weekend afternoons when my wife is working.    Again, food and fellowship, these are made to go together, and both are made deeper by each other.

There are important issues facing us in our modern world of an abundance of food of all kinds.  Globally, I think mass produced food from industrialized agriculture is both good and bad.  We are paying a big price environmentally and in terms of food additives and health risks related to how this food is processed before consumption.  Growth hormones, genetically modified foods, and use of antibiotics in meat production as a few examples of food processing and alteration, which may have yet to be realized long term impacts on human health.  As far as the environment is concerned, we are having a great loss of native ecosystems, forests and grasslands as agriculuture expands and this is resulting in a major exticntion crisis, climate change and degradation of water resources.  While our food may be afordable nominally at the grocery store, the cost ecologically is high and accumulating over time.  We are pulling on the world's fresh water through irrigation and using soil resources at a rate that is too fast for regeneration and sustainability.  There is a risk of eventual collapse of output if this is left unaddressed, especially if we add in possible future impacts of climate change.  We all need to eat lower on the food pyramid and less fat, meat, sugar.  Debates rage on these isses, and there is uncertainty, but each year we add about 78 million people to the planet and erode about 24 billion tons of topsoil, which slowly robs cropland fertility.  Nitrogen pollution from fertilizers has reached epic proportions, with serious consequences to water resources, ground water, lakes, rivers and coastal areas.  Some of these issues are being addressed through sustainable agriculture, reduced tillage techniques and organic farming, but this raises the cost of food which then makes buying green at coops and grocery stores something only the well to do can contemplate.  Yet a good friend buys all her family's food at an organic coop and she is a stay at home mom and her husband is a music minister at a church in St. Paul.  Moreover, she has two children at home.  However, she buys all bulk food and prepares all meals from scratch, no processed items, no convenience foods, no mass produced factory farm foods.  She is a remarkable person, yet many today would be unable to take the time that she does in food preparation.  Some how we will have to address food production at the current mass production, industrialized state and transform it to a sustainable mode.  That will be a huge effort.  While the Green Revolution doubled food output several times over, so then did it follow that the human population did the same.  It was a noble effort, but now we have to top it and somehow keep up with population growth but not destroy the ecosphere.  We will be able to do this if we eat less meat and lower on the food chain, since 3 to 10 pounds of grain are needed and many gallons of water to produce one pound of meat.  

There are many issues facing us on food.  The trend towards a more sedentary life style for us all and more food, but in some cases poorer food item choices, is producing a growing number of young people who will have early onset of heart disease and diabetes.  PBS Frontline did a major special program of this issue in this decade.  Many children now  recreate playing computer or internet games and spend less time outdoors getting physical exercise.  Then there are the media stereotypes in western culture for the tall thin woman of 5'9" weighing 110 pounds that has become the culturally reinforced standard globally whihc results in many women being rejected by others or themselves or depressed that that do not meet the globally reinforced media ideal.  Hence, record numbers of eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia here in the US, the west and now in other countries.  The message is that if you are not like this ideal you are not going to earn as much, be as successful, paid as much or have as much opportunity.  This feeds the diet and drug industry as well as the medical system for treatments of eating disorders.

It is a form of subjugation to have to submit to industrialized mass produced food, media bombardments of acceptable weight and height, and there is push back.  We each need to look at ourselves and say I deserve time to eat with a community of people, that we deserve safe food and a safe, clean environment, and to value others for the deeper value they have that is beyond their physical appearance.  In the end all physical beauty is fleeting, you are only young for so long.  As we age we learn that there are far more rewarding aspects to relationships than physical appearance.  This is hard for a culture like ours that is so saturated by visual media and the current stereotypes.  But we all need to eat and this brings us all together around these issues.  We need to take it back and challenge the mass produced food industrial complex, and while this will be hard, each step leads the way to the next and soon momentum is gained.  There is a sustainable agriculture community and movement.  It needs more voice, media access and incentives to break further into the food industry.  The birthing process of it going mainstream could be painful, but what could be gained in the long run will bring us miles ahead in succeeding as humans on Planet Earth.

I am thinking of doing a field trip with my Earth Science class to an organic food coop, and haivng the staff there give a guided tour and presentation.  I did this a number of years ago to the Seward Coop, but have not in recent years, since I am not teaching environmental science at this time.  I will leave it here for now and look forward to seeing my classmates blogs.  Best to you,

Sincerely,

John   

CI 5150 Post for October 25 on Article by Thomas A. Paine, Jr.

November 2, 2009

This is a late post for October 25 and is based on the article sent to the class by Thom Swiss.   I complelely agree that popular culture is an important way to connect with students in their education.  It is interesting for me to reflect back to my own K-12 education and on how influential popular culture was a part of my own experience.  For the first three years of my secondary education I attended an east coast boarding school for boys in New Jersey.  I have always loved music, and had, from an early age, loved sound tracks from movies, broadway musicals, popular teen beat and rock music and some symphonic music.  As an adolescent through elementary and middle school, I heard and listened to many of my older sister's records, and had a collection of my own of 45 and 33 rpm vinyl disk records.  We are two years apart in age, and I remember these times well in reflecting back.  We listened to a Chicago AM radio station with call letters WLS and followed the top 40.  As middle school was ending, The Beach Boys were just making it big nationally.  I remember well the soaring four part harmonies that they did over driving rock music. The music at this time was very focused on vocals, from the Drifters, Del Shannon, to Tommy Roe, and since I Iiked to sing, it was a quick connection for me.

By the time I was off to boading school in 1962, the Beatles were just getting play on US radio and appearing on the Ed Sullivan show.  My freshman house master let us have use of his apartment living room on saturdays to listen to our surfing records, the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, and also hear some of his records, in particular I remember some of his Ray Charles records.

By sophmore and junior years I was in an upper classman house system at the boarding school that allowed us more living room and time on our own.  In the freshman dorms we only had a sleeping cubicle and did homework any time we were out of class in a dorm study hall.  As sophmores and juniors, we studied in our rooms during the day outside of class time and at night instead of a study hall.  Our assistant house master in this middle grades house let us come down to his apartment in the evenings to watch some TV shows such as Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West, and some of the music variety shows that featured popular rock groups both from the US and the British invasion of 1964 to 1965.  He enjoyed these as much as we did reflecting back on it now.  Our school had a music center and I hung out there listening to kids who had instruments jam and play current music.  Bit by bit I learned to play the easy 4/4 beat while listening to Beatles tunes with head phones on a drum set that was available in the music center.  I later got a guitar and learned chords and some melodies and rifts bit by bit.  Soon, our house had a band, and the next year I played drums for it.  By that time, my struggles with academics mounted and I had discipline problems as well.  This helps me see the experience of kids today in similar contexts.  The pop music I loved was not a part of any teaching content at the prep school.  Beyond playing guitar for a school production of Bye Bye Birdie, singing in Glee Club and playing in a rock band for Glee Club dances and concerts at boarding schools for girls on the Glee Club circuit, I was losing my direction.  By 1967 I was back in my home town of 4,000 in central Illinois as a high school senior.  I quickly connected with friends I knew to form a rock band and if I had not had this outlet and connection, I don't know if I would have made it through high school.  

As a kid, there are lots of passages one goes through.  Being home my senior year with my parents and my brother in retrospect was a very good thing for me.  I think that is what I missed at the boarding school, and though I was somewhat in a different culture compared to the east coast, it helped me draw strength in my growing up at this time.  Playing with the friends I had in the rock band was sustaining.  Their parents and my parents helped us.  My parents gave me a set of new drums, I think that they how sustaining the music was for me.  I had an English teacher who was really good and we talked about pop culture as part of his classes.  He played guitar and advised us on our band line up of personnel and music repetoire. 

The summer after graduation was a huge one musically, St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, most of the Rolling Stones were in jail for drug charges and facing possible prison sentences, the landmark albums by the Byrds with electrified Dylan and folk music and the Jefferson Airplane were released; the counter culture was in full blown in 1967.

Given this experience, which went on in college and for some years after, I only survived because I found refuge and strength in music and fellowship with others who also were pursuing it as a possible career. I can see that inner city kids have a need to have their world as a pathway to understanding the larger world they are growing up in and as they encounter the educational establishment.  I definitely see how music could play a powerful role in humanities and science education.  The earth roars with wind and oceans, thunders and cracks across the sky with lightening bolts, and sings quietly in gentle springs and lake breezes and waves.  The natural world has been one of the great inspirations for painters, photographers, musicians and writers.  One of my efforts in a K-12 grant project that I teaching for professional development for educators has been focused on getting teachers and students outside more to encounter the natural world first hand and discover by experience and observation.  I vision students making films of the Earth for science education that cut across disciplines and use the arts in creative and imaginative ways that connect with their peers.  I am working with one creative arts high school looking at these possibilities.   I have been inspired by the work of Craig Blacklock, photographer, and musicians Rayn Rapsys and Peter Mayer who have worked with him to develop the DVD Minnesota's North Shore.  My dream is a production like this for the urban environmental  areas, drawing students to the naural work beyond the human constructed one for a new realm of consciousness that carries elements of meditation and relief from our frenzied world.  Many children seek refuge along the river and parks to be within their own world in the process of gowing up.  I believe we are "wired" for this and that when we don't get this type of connection, we are unwell and seek to find it in consumerism of many kinds, which in the end can become addictions that do not and cannot provide meaningful satisfaction, beyond fleeting moments. 

I concur with Fain that popular culture is a key in getting students interested in education.  This past year over Christmas and New Years for 2008-2009, my wife and I watched all of the extended version of Tolkein's "Lord of the Ring."   The message of this connects to a need to be humble with our planet.  The Hobbits are gentle and use the Earth in a harmonious way, in a pastoral life.  In contrast, Saron tears down the forests to make fuel for steel weapons forging for a massive army to conquer the worlds of the humble.  I am sure Tolkein saw industrialism as a threat, that this work also is art that could be used to teach an Earth and environmental ethic and conciousness.  I could say more here, but must draw to a close now for this entry.  Thank you for reading my entry and I wish you a connection with the Earth.  Today I am in a sunlight filled room with the beauty of a Native American Indian Summer Day of early November day.  I long to go outside now and take a walk in the cool crisp air. 

In closing, yesterday, I talked with a neighbor kid, 12 years old raking his mom's lawn of leaves with his 8 year old borther.  We talked a bit, I am helping him with some curriculum for chemistry that he told me he wants to pursue after a special district presentation for St. Paul District kids that was held at the Chemistry Department this summer at the UMN.  The boys talked as they worked.  At the end of the raking they laid back in the leaves and looked up at the sky.  A simple wonder each year in the change of the seasons, sounds, colors and tactile wonders from the Earth, the Creation, the mystery of life and its envelope around us all, wrapped in the galaxy and the Cosmos of unknowable extent and energy, visible and invisible.   All good things and joy to you,

Sincerely,

John 

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