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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spring to Summer: Deer and their Fawns

A young white tailed deer stopped by one summer afternoon to rest beneath 
the shade of our backyard tree near a bedroom window. More images here
Thanks to The Judge for retrieving my Nikon soI could capture the little 
fellow without him immediately fleeing.
As witnessed since the time of this fawn's visit, mothers of young mammals leave their babies in a safe place while they hunt or look for food. Another time, we saw a little fox cub resting one night about 2 a.m. in our back courtyard. Two in the morning is rush hour for many desert mammals. 
One night while it was raining softly, an adult (possibly male) skunk was bumping around in that same courtyard. Somewhat confused, he eventually exited the space and went back into the yard. He then kept waddling around (yes, they waddle) until he was around a corner and out of sight. Another night, he returned to hoover up the sunflower seeds I had scattered on the concrete courtyard pad for the birds. He proceeded to eat every morsel that night (twice!)
We have about 6 or more deer that forage for greens in the arroyo behind the house. Good friends who live up the street said that the deer (usually in groups of 3) like to look over their fence to watch their dogs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Campus: Cotton Memorial and Old Main by T.A.Jackson

The black and white image below was captured at the former Texas Western College of Mines campus (now University of Texas El Paso) with a medium format Kodak Medallist. The other digital images shown here were taken with an Apple iPhone.

Standing in front of Hudspeth Memorial building (was a dorm and now houses English) with Cotton Memorial on the left and Old Main in center rear, dad's image reminds of what a radical change this is compared with today's center of campus, especially since the Centennial Plaza project is complete. What a change!  
Compared with his image from the mid-40s, the grade in front of Cotton now runs several feet below the entrance to Cotton (which now has several sets of steps), and the Union has not been built in addition to the Main Library and the Liberal Arts buildings. Usually, such images can be dated by vehicles, so I'm going to ask my resident authority what year the cars are in this picture. I'm guessing my dad took this picture before his trip to the Western National Parks (pre 1950).
Today, the campus has a wonderful greenscape with water features now encompassing an area previously taken up by the Geology Building (was main library), and an older knoll that fell away from the entrance to the Union Theatre. That knoll is now a confabulation of boulders tumbling down to the green pitch. A knoll where I once sat upon its green, played my guitar, and sang the songs of Joni Mitchell.

My father went on in-town photographic journeys with a friend named Mr. Miller. Miller worked at the El Paso Herald Post and was a bit older than dad. After Mr. Miller died, I accompanied dad to visit his widow, so dad could help her value her husband's photographic equipment collection. The Millers lived in a big house on North Loop, near Farmer's Dairies, and they had two dalmatian dogs. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. 

Today, I have dad's two Medallist cameras, which unfortunately use Kodak's proprietary 620 film and not the more readily available 120. He also left a nice Leica R4, which he traded for using a Leica M2. Towards the end of his life, we both agreed it would have been better to have held onto the M2. But, no matter. All are beautiful pieces of the mechanical reproductive arts. 

Before my father passed away, I gave him the Medallist to hold and examine. The medium format camera is heavy and I cannot imagine hauling it around today. 

At right, dad is carries his Medallist and Leica at Fort Bliss National Cemetery to visit the grave of his brother, Clinton Wesley Jackson (1927-2006). At the time dad was 80, and later died in February 2015.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Deer have been coming down the foothills

And I hope they don't need to go as far as the river.

With Paisano in construction mode, I've not driven on it in a while. However, during an NPR news-brief today, I heard that El Paso's border fence segment is one of the first locations to be "modified, "added to," or "changed." I shudder to use the words, "improved," "strengthened," or "walled."
Railroad Bridge at Executive and Paisano near El Rio Bravo

Why begin such work here?  It is always the "vast" areas along the Arizona border and the unfenced lands towards Big Bend that people feel the need to "demand" a wall or fence instead of consistent patrolling as is done here. All this is quite idiotic to me and know that will harm native animals more than any other creature.

How is it possible that people having nothing to do with these lands see fit to grab hard working, vulnerable people, along with our tax dollars stolen from healthcare, education, environmental protection, and alternative fuel research to build such an ugly and sad wall/fence? Slicing families apart while claiming "their" immigrant elders came here "legally" when in fact there was no legal or illegality in that quotient of the time. Only specific groups were allowed to enter at certain times. Immigrants hustled themselves into a ship and prayed they would be allowed into this country. Hoped they could stay healthy enough to pass inspection. At least that was how my great gran Jacksons did it during the pre-Revolutionary era Massachusetts from Yorkshire via White Chapel, just as likely for the same reasons my Gonzales/Gonzalez great grans who came here from Aquascalientes, Mexico in the 1880s for ASARCO—for work, for industry, for capitalism, for a better life.

Such a waste of stale air emanating from this spawn of immigrants, spewing infuriatingly and nasally xenophobic speeches. This kleptocrat. This con. This racist. This man who brags he would sexually assault women who pass his orange muster. His karma wall is mounting high, and i hope it falls on him soon.

O hurry. Set a course now to impeach this narcissistic thief of vulnerable lands, frightened people, and ecological fragility.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mail Art: A Valentine Remailing Project

The great news today is that several cards arrived by Wednesday and in good order.

2011 Postmark on a card received
from Austin friend
2017 Postmark received
2016 Postmark from Valentine, Texas

Outing for Sunday: A Valentine Remailing

MJ and I made a quick trip to the main post office on Boeing so we could send off my Valentines package for remailing by the post office in Valentine, Texas. The package holds addressed and stamped Valentines cards. Once there, the Valentine Postmaster will, as a courtesy, hand cancel your stamped envelopes, and then remail your letters/cards to the addressee from their station on or before Valentines Day. This is something that keeps the little station on the map.

Prada Marfa 

In 2012, the USPS threatened to close the office, but too many people shouted it down. Quietly, the idea was dropped. This is but one example of how how speaking up and making a noise about a potential change in public policy can sway or at least awaken elected state and local representatives.

Where is Valentine?

Valentine, Texas, is on the road to Marfa, near the Prada Marfa sculpture. To get there, drive east from El Paso on I-10, and exit East onto US-90 at Van Horn; from there, continue 36.5 miles to the sculpture. Valentine the village is there, too, but you would be hard pressed to see it. From there, you can continue on to Marfa proper and stop for lunch. The Prada Marfa sculpture is 2 hours and 20 minutes from the UTEP campus.Unfortunately, my Valentines went out late Sunday afternoon, and may not make the remailing on time. Here's hoping the Valentines reach people with the special cancellation applied. Shown above is last year's cancellation. The other image is of the Prada Marfa, an example of a “pop architectural land art project."
For both envelopes, the street address
has been covered. Rest assured, they arrived safely.


Protocol for sending any remailing Valentine includes a "thank you" card addressed to the postmaster or postmistress. In the art mail community, you also should add more postage as a thank you to the local and delivery postal workers who will decipher the envelopes. This linked article, by the way, provides a lot of information about sending artistic envelopes and includes many inspirational examples. I grovel at their feet.

As far as these sorts of embellished envelopes go, it has not been decided whether or not postal workers like or hate processing/delivering them. But, from what I've heard, at least one postal worker likes the mail that my friend in Austin receives.

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...