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Current and historical attempts to chronicle my life and thoughts
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Monday, July 20, 2009

My Birthday Weekend (and books, and films)

My weekend: I had a wonderfully quiet birthday weekend (sorry, Sis, no margs--yet).

The waitress didn't "get" the use
of Lila's new wide-angle lens

That's more like it: Detail of above shot

After sleeping through most of Friday evening, I woke up around 1 a.m. and worked until about noon Saturday. I napped a little, then Lila arrived with lunch. We napped a bit more, then met our friends Stefano and Farah at Miracle Meals for dinner (see pictures above). Then we came home and watched a movie. (By the end of the weekend, we had watched "Time Bandits," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Silverado," and part of "Excalibur," all films that I brought back from the states, and mostly bought in Japan.)

A crashing typhoon hit Saturday night, so Sunday I stayed in, and Lila went out only to pick up dinner. We watched movies and veged.

When she left this morning, I never went back to sleep (though I'm getting ready to now); my sleep cycle still isn't perfect, but it's close to right.

* * * * * * * *

Zen Baggage: I've been reading a little in a book that Lila gave me for my birthday. Zen Baggage by Bill Porter (also known as "Red Pine"), is about his trip through China to sites associated with the life of the first six patriarchs of Chan (Zen). I skipped to the chapter that centers around Guangzhou, and found several places that I'd like to visit in the next few weeks. More on that later, but you can read a bit more about Red Pine at Wikipedia, and in an interview. (In looking this up, I was surprised to find that his first residence in Taiwan was at Fo Guang Shan, with the order that I studied and worked with in Los Angeles and Yangzhou.)

* * * * * * * *

"Forrest" Carter: I also want to say a little about The Education of Little Tree, a book by "Forrest" Carter, who also wrote the book on which "The Outlaw Josey Wales" (one of my favorite Westerns, which is my favorite movie genre) was based.

When I was teaching at Campbell Hall School, Little Tree was taught to the seventh graders (by my co-teacher, not by me). This was before widespread use of the Internet, and facts were still found mostly in books and magazines. Somehow, I stumbled on the news that "Forrest" Carter, who was supposedly raised by his Cherokee grandparents (the subject of the smarmy book) was in fact Asa Earl Carter, a rabid segregationist who had worked for Georgia governor George Wallace.

I took this information to my department chair, a wonderful, deeply wise, and otherwise iconoclastic woman, and told her that I felt the subject should be broached, and in fact could make for some lively discussion.

She quashed this idea in a minute. The children, and especially the parents, were not to know of "Forrest" Carter's background (the very pseudonym had been chosen in honor of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the Ku Klux Klan).

I wonder now, looking back, if it would have been possible to hide such an embarrassment in our wired world--or perhaps even to make such a mistake in the first place.

Asa Earl Carter's bio on Wikipedia, and a brief N.Y. Times "expose" from 1991, before we taught the book.

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The Classmates Project and new social networking links: I spent some time this weekend building a new project within my "Bio" pages. "The Classmates Project" is a posting of my old class pictures from Kindergarten through Grade 8; I'm hoping former classmates will join in and provide information. To that end, I also added a "" account (with some profile information added), and added that to my Links page. (While I was there, I also added my LinkedIn profile.) If you're one of my former classmates, or just on in general, look me up.

* * * * * * * *

And that's that. Lots of work to do, books to read, things to write, based on all the material I brought back from California. Watch for more!

Here are the posts for Saturday, Sunday, and today (Monday):

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