Friday, August 17, 2018

Foto Frontera at the La Fe Cultural and Technology Center

Exhibition Link on Wix

If you are in town from Thursday, September 6 to October 26, 2018, please stop in to see all the wonderful photographers' works which will be on display along with my dad's images.

For the event, I chose to create a new website for my dad's images using Wix. Every semester, I teach a First Year Composition course that includes an ePortfolio or Advocacy Website assignment. This allows me to remain relatively current with the various free services students can use to create their websites. Because of this practice, I decided to create a photography exhibition / portfolio for my dad's photographs that will be exhibited in September at the La Fe Cultural and Technology Center.

I like the idea of being able to connect from one service to another while adding content here, and chose Wix because it lets the designer create finely arranged pages, and provides several basic templates from which to choose. Weebly is very good too and I've created sites with it. It is very good for students that have little or no web design and authoring experience. However, Wix seems best for portfolio and gallery type sites. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

It had to come at some point

When a relative greatly disappoints, go to Costco, gas up the vehicle. Then, go inside and buy a big box of strawberries 🍓, some shrimp 🦐 , and avocados 🥑. 

Then come home and make strawberry jam for the very first time. I did everything but buy a bottle of Taittinger 🍾

The disappointment stems from this relative (over 40 and living in another state) believing that any immigrant is a bad immigrant. I didn't go to this person’s Facebook page, but instead, the person commented on an image i posted of Jim Carrey with a quote. 

The recipe comes from a link to Ina Garten’s strawberry jam recipe. It’s really simple and has but three ingredients: fresh strawberries, lemon juice/grated lemon rind, and sugar.

Find her recipe here:

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Aluminum 35mm Film Canisters

My dad was a retail camera buyer for a local department store. Previously and immediately after high school he worked as a darkroom technician for a portrait studio and then a drug store. 

In high school, he told me that #Kodak was phasing out its metal film canisters and switching to plastic. I immediately started saving the aluminum ones, and sometimes he brought me some from work when people left their film to be developed and printed.. 

Over the years, I’ve discovered special film types had colored canisters. Shown in image 3 Is a book of little stickers printed by @moo. Good times. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

The quiet ones with whom we share the land: Mule deer and skunks

Accompanying an announcement reminding students a draft was due soon, this image was included with a note about the deer that live nearby. Added here is a collage of one of several skunks who live around the arroyo, too.
mule deer

One of six mule deer that live in and around the Franklin Mountain foothills in an arroyo behind my house. This fellow and the others usually walk up and down the arroyo, munching on leaves that hang over the walls.

Deer usually travel together in groups of threes, although all six have been seen together as far as Snowheights and Westwind. Last week, I spied two females with their juvenile offspring, one each.

A couple of seasons ago, the six, seen earlier down Westwind one evening, were seen later that night walking back into our arroyo (a rain runoff collecting station for the area) behind my house.
collage of American skunk, male
Silently and slowly they walk along the backyard walls that face the arroyo below La Posta. They are nearly invisible unless you see them move. One side glance and they disappear again until you detect their movement. This place was christened Foxes Arroyo as two foxes have lived in the arroyo, too. One night I heard their growly noises at our old cat Buddy, and I saw their ears and faces peeking over the back rock wall. Another night we saw them scamper across Belvidere to get back into the arroyo. Like the deer, they forage beneath the larger house walls across and in the arroyo. Instead of greens they search for small rodents and other small mammals. 

Quietly, too are the skunks and other smaller mammals that dwell in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains. In the winter, a momma skunk and her kits will sometimes keep warm in our garage. We leave its door open about three inches so that animals can get water. If we left out dry cat food, the skunks come in for a nosh, too. But the night I captured this small skunk it was about 10:30 PM. They also make the rounds about 2:00 AM. Here, he is munching some seeds I put out for them. In the morning, all the birds will alight and finish what was there. The bird seed includes sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and nuts.

Along with the skunks, we have Steller's blue jays (migrating), two types of dove, mocking birds, juncos, tiny ladder-back woodpeckers, thrashers, minuscule field mice, ground squirrels, coyotes, owls, raptors, (red tailed hawks and the petite American kestrel) and squirrels. Years ago, a friend in Northeast El Paso said he saw a badgers in his neighborhoods near the Franklin foothills off Magnetic. Deer and skunks are also living there, too.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Photography and Vintage Film

In between reviewing student assignments and meeting with them, I was catching up on newsletter reading. The Twisted Sifter always provides interesting posts about visual artistry and how it intertwines with technologies, whether old and new.

Today's newsletter is no different and provides a balance between moving images of 1911 New York City, presented by videographer Guy Jones, black and white film and Christopher Burkett's Ilfachrome CIBA large format film photography.

Each video explores how either the editor of the movie or the photographer combine old school technology with new. The real magic continues in the "post production" work, whether adjusting the speed of the video and adding ambient sounds, or taking up to eight hours to expose Burkett's diminishing supply of special film to its equally dwindling inventory of paper.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sidebar: Concrete, Cotton Seeds, and Cigarettes

Recently, I've been sharing what I call Sidebars, random information about local items of interest. I send the information along when I send announcements Asarco smokestack under construction, El Paso, late students via Blackboard. This was the most recent Sidebar, but now I'm thinking I will go back and post more of those here, too.

Image above: In the mid-1960s, after my father worked for The Popular department store for many years, he left to work for a testing laboratory. There, he tested cement, and ran soil compaction tests for many large projects in town, including the now demolished Farah Manufacturing facility (now the site of the Fountains of Farah), Morehead Middle School (concrete corrugated shaped flat roof), the El Paso International airport traffic controller tower, and the tallest ASARCO smokestack, completed in the late 1960s. At ASARCO, dad photographed the construction site at ground level several times and he was even allowed to take me there, too. Between the ages of 7–12, I went to many sites and watched the concrete compaction tests at the lab and helped place cement cylinders in the damp room where they were to be cured for 21-days. The cylinders were capped at the building site with a funky yellow sulphur cap at either end. 
For its time, the ASARCO smokestack project was the largest and longest continuously poured cement project in the world. When the regionally grown cotton was ready to be processed into cotton-seed oil, dad worked at the Southwestern Irrigated Cotton Growers Association* (SWIG) processing plant. When he came home after working at SWIG all day in the fall, his short-sleeved cotton shirts were permeated with the smell of refined cotton seed oil. 
One Sunday, while visiting my grandparents at their home in Smeltertown, which stood directly across the street from the ASARCO plant, dad got a call to go to the construction site. I begged to go with him and he said yes. We toured the ASARCO site with the project manager and walked inside the tower as seen here. I remember looking up to see the blue sky while standing dead center within the hollow stack. (Shades of The Ring!) Later, when it was complete, dad rode the construction elevator to the top of the smelter tower and shot photos from its platform. Unfortunately, those photographs were given to ASARCO and I never saw them. 
By the time the tower was demolished on April 13, 2013, my mom had died in January of that year, and dad had lost most of his sight due to macular degeneration**.

**Macular degeneration is hereditary. However, those who get it in later life were usually those who smoked cigarettes. My father smoked unfiltered Chesterfields from the age of 15 to 58 or so. Not long after he quit he began losing his eyesight. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Discourse Communities essay for my current online class

Usually, activities are set up to discuss the discourse communities in which we are members. Students realize that they overlap with one another, or that they are members of similar kinds of groups. Students map these encompassing and shared communities that reside within and without our residence, and include, but not limited to:
  • families, extended or nuclear;
  • communal situations with many roommates, such as a college co-op;
  • military service members--enlisted or officers;
  • churches, temples, mosques, sitting group members;
  • gym and yoga members;
  • classmates, past and present;
  • athletic team or band members;
  • clubs; professional, Panhellenic, etc.
We converse and share information differently within and without our diverse discourse community collections. And, when communicating, we put on different attitudes or "masks," depending to whom we speak or write/text/twitter/share information with those, at any given time or place.

We laugh with our families and may hail each other by nicknames the family has bestowed on us. My González Smeltertown nickname was Carolina La Gallina (Carolina the chicken, and rightly so). My Jackson cousin and grandparents hailed me by the southern Carolyn Rhea (pronounced Ray) by running my first and middle names together. One González cousin was nicknamed Pelon (bald, ironically because he was born with a full head of hear) and other Gūero because he had green eyes in our sea of brown as boot irises. Yet, over time Pelon has come to fit his name because lost most of his hair, and Gūero still has his green eyes. 

We focus and become serious when speaking to authority figures, etc. We share stories within special groups and learn to trust or not to trust outsiders. Here, in this Daily Show with Trevor Noah segment with Roy Wood, Jr., he defines and frames what Black Twitter means as a digital discourse community. Wood, Jr. also shames and complicates the group why others cannot simply opt into self-enrolling as a member of Black Twitter and why: 

We allow membership based solely on where we are born, in which family, by the color of our skin, and by the language(s) we learn and use.
Discourse community members share, tell inside jokes, and use language and words differently. We warp language into special terms, and share lore, aka family stories. Lore includes oral histories, communal memories, practices, and special recipes for holidays. Over time, the meanings of such thinks like special foods and recipes fade as older group members die. If stories aren't shared, they disappear with the last member. But we can later recall their meanings if we discover diaries, photographs, letters, and other textual, visual, or recorded evidence. Even a person's type of handwriting can identify their education level and where and when they learned how to write, such as with the Palmer Method.

Lost Significance

Such happened on my maternal side of the family. Decades ago, my mother's family lived in Smeltertown, a now politically erased and physically destroyed Mexican American community that was once located across Paisano from the now razed ASARCO plant. At the time I was about 4-7 years old, and still can recall the special foods my abuela and tia would have prepared for next week's Good Friday. In hindsight, the sparse noonday meal (served before noon) mimicked a Passover Seder meal. This memory of such weird food combinations later prompted my older cousins and I to wonder about their significance beyond a Good Friday Catholic fast. It has enticed me to research if perhaps abuela's family (Macias, who was of Mexican and Belgian descent,) and an immigrant with abuelo from Aguascalientes, Mexico, were in fact, "hidden Jews." Several years ago, the El Paso Times interviewed and discussed families here along the border who discovered their older Jewish heritage.
The main point of all this is to explain that discourse communities share of specific information that others do not have. Members are privy to this information that others cannot know or obtain unless invited to learn. And it is by noticing these special hallmarks, subtly interviewing our families, coworkers, classmates, and friends that we can understand more about ourselves and how we communicate and share with those around us. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

International Write-In for 2017 at the University of Texas El Paso

Today, I am at UTEP's University Writing Center, located in the Main Library, participating with others in the International Write-In, sponsored by Swarthmore College. I plan to be  here from 11:30-2:00. 
The major aim a write-in is to kick back, meet with friends, and always support one another. Additionally, I'm assisting my students and answering any questions they may have for any class project taught this semester. While it's not what I thought a write-in would be, I sent an announcement to my students encouraging them to stop and say hi. And, one student came. We discussed tech issues, the semester topic researched, and help for what exactly should the ePortfolio and advocacy website entail.
Overall, this is a perfect time to take a break from studying, and do some free writing; even some free sketching would be fun.

Here is one picture I took soon after I arrived.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Buddy the King

Much like the time he fell into the badly covered and abandoned pool next door, he missing a day until meowing back to my call for him, Buddy was King until the end—dignified, even annoyed at any less than a dignified situation he found himself, whether then or just a short time ago. He hadn’t maowed his Flamepoint meow since Thursday. It was the singular call, one that belied his Siamese and Tabby heritage. 

Saturday morning at Crossroads Animal Hospital, the veterinarian pronounced his paper thin veins would make his anesthesia injection too worrisome for the old cat. She didn't want to keep poking to inject properly, so she opted for a slower acting place to injectthe abdomen.

Her first try at hitting his vein had resulted in a subcutaneous bubble, its blueness translucent through shaved white skin. Before that, she noted he had developed a pronounced heart murmur since his last visit.

She agreed with our determination to let him go. We told her he had stopped eating and drinking. He could no longer keep his food down, and he had difficulty climbing the steps to our bed. Yet, he valiantly fought off her second and final medication that she injected.

Slower, accurate the drugs finally did their duty even as he struggled to keep from sleep as a supreme monarch would. His last breaths continued after his brain had left this earthly realm. His muscles and nerves worked after his consciousness gone.

Buddy had a matchless strength and hauteur, the counterpart to our first cat Inky, a tiny "dowager empress." She was a black stray we first found during the 1995 July fourth weekend. She died in 2013, a little before my father came to live with us after my mom died and his hip replacement sentenced him to life in bed or wheelchair.

To me, Buddy was a great companion and helper when I lifted him, and placed him in my father’s railed bed; he gave dad great comfort and happiness. Many nights Buddy would remain, at the foot of dad’s bed until perhaps midnight or so. Then he’d jump off and meow at the backdoor, a signal he was ready to leave for the evening.

It was estimated by his primary vet that he was between 14 and 17 years old; but, we’ll never know. Never know from where he came, how old he was, and if he had another name. What we do know is that he had a home with us for nearly 10 years and was a joy to care about and for. 

Thank you, Buddy. You reigned over this household and Foxes Arroyo well. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Not all who wander are lost: The Value of Genealogy

Ethnography meets Autoethnography
Met two women for coffee this morning. Having traveled from diverse parts of California, and here to conduct genealogical research, they are part of an old El Paso family. They will visit the main public library downtown, UTEP special collections, and their family's graves at Mt Sinai Cemetery, which is adjacent to Concordia. I believe it is the only cemetery I've not visited or captured headstone images. So, I've posted a couple of images from my local cemetery flickr album
Concordia and the L&J
Percy Frank Thomas, Concordia Cemetery
and the L&J Cafe in the background.
Before my dad died, I researched their family as dad had been a childhood friend of their relative, the youngest son of a large and vibrant family. To help answer my dad's questions, I created a public Ancestry tree containing his friend's parents, siblings aunts and uncles data, then triangulated information using newspapers dot com, city directories, and US census data. It is the only public tree i have let loose. I did this for dad (and me, too) because of dad's funny stories about their brief friendship and how he wondered what had happened to his younger friend. I think they were about 2-3 years apart in age. Dad always marveled at how smart his friend was. Evidently, he had skipped two grades, and I found he attended University of Colorado and majored in engineering. I found pages of his college yearbook and learned what fraternity he joined. Eventually, Dad's friend worked as a satellite engineer in Arizona, and was a university professor. Newspapers dot com helped me view and save newspaper articles about his projects.
After dad and his friend moved apart from their houses on North Florence near El Paso High School, his friend's father died, and this part becomes more interesting from a feminist standpoint. Although the family was involved in retailing, his mother became an immigration counselor for people seeking asylum here before the US entered WWII. She set up an immigration information center on Olive street where a housing development now stands.

It is interesting because the family originally fled the pogroms in eastern Europe and somehow landed here by way of Mexico, as have many other families who settled here. 
I found articles in the El Paso Herald-Post about his mother, who spoke to women's groups about her work and how those seeking asylum were needing assistance.
She was very instrumental in helping people enter the states because of Hitler's rise.

As the children grew, his sisters remained here, became teachers, and his brothers served in the military. And now, they are almost all gone from El Paso. It is amazing to me how many different souls from various parts of the world have passed this way, stayed a while, and then moved to other parts of this country.
"Immigrants, we get the job done."

Monday, July 17, 2017

For the love of a nib and a pen

Brian Goulet's vlog entry from earlier today was about his attitudes that differ from the broader FP community at large, and he touched upon appreciating broad nibs. This video allowed me to reply (first time) to one of his newsy and low-key review and Q & A videos. Fun stuff. Speaking of broad nibs, Goulet noted that broad nibs are not great sellers and not favored by the wider fountain pen community.

To me, broad nibs allow for a more personalized signature and tend to emulate an oblique or flex nib (thick and thin line) easier.I fi nd extra fine nibs, which i like, too, but they tire my hand sooner. Right now, I have a Platinum Preppy in Extra Fine that I use with my Hobonichi Techno 2017 Planner. My tired hand issue probably stems because I keyboard and text a lot versus handwriting. And, that's my issue. If the issue is the paper, then it's the paper's problem, or the writer's choice of paper used.

Lamy Safari with Platinum Preppy in Extra Fine looped to a covered Hobonichi Techno 2017 Journal
It could also be the time taken to dry and that it uses ink faster. Moreover, if the signer is initialing or signing paper printed on laser stock (as would an office worker or lawyer), that certainly would cheapen the feel and aggravate the FP writer--that stuff sucks for handling fluid inks.
Years ago, our fourth grade (I think) teachers took such care to instruct us on prepping our desks (and surrounding flooring) with scrap paper so we could replace our old school student-grade Parker (15) or Shaeffer cartridge pens for the first time.

Today, I always have with me even the inexpensive Varsity or Platinum Preppy FP for my students to sign in to my university composition classes. For many, it is the first time they've used a FP, or they say they haven't used one in years. Always fun to hear and see their reactions to using a FP.
While I don't see fountain pen use and exploration/collecting of the writing implements as a hobby, I find it more as a way of communicating method, process, and a part of life (care and feeding of a valued object.)
Terrel A. Jackson (1925-2015)

Sidebar: If only I could locate my dad's Parker Titanium FP he bought soon after they were released that would make my year. Dad either asked for it back after he gave it to me, or I've misplaced it. (Again, that's a sadness shared with you today.) The good thing is I have the roller ball from that set. 

Here is dad, who taught me the value of dogs, fountain pens, and film photography.

Foto Frontera at the La Fe Cultural and Technology Center

Exhibition Link on Wix If you are in town from Thursday, September 6 to October 26, 2018, please stop in to see all the wonderful photog...