hi folks! i'm aaron and this is my blog. in it you'll find adventures, rivers of thoughts, legends of the great, poems, rants, commentaries, and an occasional tall tale. please enjoy, drink deeply, and comment as you feel appropriate!
German 2 English! (Click drop-down, 1st option of ENGLISH ["United Statesian" as yet unavailable] )
"The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls -- the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning."
-Henry David Thoreau, On Man and Nature
Originally posted on 7 November, 2010. Reposted for seasonal reflection!
Meet Mo': Rear view Les artistes peek inside K's clown o' lantern. Both Clown and Mo' yielded delicious seeds! Mo' tries to steal the show as Mommy gets brushed up. Mo' keeps telling us about this Australian doctor he's met. Ahhh! Eaten! (Someone else's art from halloween) Non-flash view Eater, Eaten, & Friends
Originally posted on 17 October, 2011. Reposted for seasonal reflection!
One of my favorite songs, a waterdeep tune, claims, "a thankful heart prepares the way for you my God". I think that is right. These are photographs taken of kid contributions to a fall thankfulness binder in OMSI's children's area. I actually took these photos back in the summer, but now is a good time to post them as many trees are now exploding with the colors of fall!
While the show represented here seems to be interesting and i am still learning about it, i prefer to pretend that the child meant to write "Gabbo".
"Knowledge is the only fountain both of the love and of the principles of human liberty"
Inscription above the door of a local high school.
I wait near this most days at the bus stop before continuing the journey to work.
Yesterday i played a cello and a double bass for the first time ever. Actually, now that i think about it, i may have attempted a bass before, but probably just played it by plucking the strings. Anyway, this time i was able to get some good sounds out of both instruments and sort of play a few ditties without massive ear pain to myself or any innocent bystanders.
In a book our daughter and i have been reading again lately, Der Wald (The Forest), this line (among other things) is really striking:
Diese kleinen Tiere [Ameisen] sind Schwerstarbeiter. Sie können Lasten tragen, die viele Male schwerer sind als sie selbst."
("These small animals [ants] are Hardest Workers. They can carry burdens that are many times heavier than themselves." - my fairly literal translation)
This is how i feel with my current work to finish my master's degree, mostly in the process of writing long, dry, academic papers. The classes have been fun, and relatively easy, since they've been by and large interactive and rich in dealing with people, but slogging on through papers I don't necessarily care about that much is tough. One of the worst aspects is having to stare at a computer screen for long periods of time, especially when the weather is warm and summery outside. But i am nearly finished.
Recently after working downtown and just before getting on the bus home, this little guy was staggering around near my feet. The photo came out a little blurry, but you should still be able to see the black dot which is an ant at the bottom of a butterfly or moth wing he's trying to carry there. He wasn't doing too well, or at least he didn't cover a lot of ground while i was watching him. But there he was and he kept trying.
A theme that has been coming up in a lot of films i have been seeing and things i have been reading lately is the idea that there are lots of forces at work around us which are much larger and more powerful than we are. And often some of these forces show up in the things that at first glance seem small, but on closer examination are huge. How does the ant know what to do? How does the seed sprout and grow into a delicious, edible plant? How do we finally make it from point A to point B? How are our needs ultimately provided for? Why are we losing sight of stars in the night sky to light pollution and what effect is that having on us? How do we breathe clean(er) air? How do we breathe? Many people are asking these types of questions, but not many of them are looking toward spiritual answers.
"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest."
“Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces."
And for the intrepid some of the context of the latter excerpt:
"I am weary, God, but i can prevail. Surely i am only a brute, not a man; i do not have human understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have i attained to the knowledge of the Holy One. Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His Name, and what is the Name of His Son? Surely you know! Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar. Two things i ask of You, Lord; do not refuse me before i die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, i may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or i may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Do not slander a servant to their master, or they will curse you, and you will pay for it. There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers; those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind. The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry. There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures. There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that i do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman."
True statement, for good or ill, even if you don't purchase things at Goodwill.
Wowie, I am so rhyme-y.
Picked up some great kicks yesterday, basically new.
I am pretty happy with them aestheically, now we'll see how they stand the Test of Time.
Recently someone i came into contact with at the university had a very interesting personal history and background and on top of that they mentioned the country of Namibia, which i only recently learned had been a German colony. I knew that the Germans had colonized, just as every other major European power, but I wasn't sure exactly where, and though i now know that Nambia was one place they did, my understanding is still far less than well-rounded. The Germans were late in the game and were not as prolific in spreading their realm of influence and oppression as say the Spanish or Portuguese, the French or the Dutch.
My interlocutor described how German was very fascinating in Namibia because the language spoken there is essentially a cultural and linguistic artifact of what German once was, from a bygone era and which can't be found anywhere else in the world.
I was able to get ahold of a few VHS tapes about Namibia, one entitled "Whose Land?" made perhaps in the late 80s for The Land Reform Conference of 1991 and at least partially funded by the Swedish government. Many of the themes are strikingly similar to the plight of Native Americans in this country or native peoples in Spanish colonies in Latin America or Francophone countries in Africa. Colonizer comes in, kills or exploits people; oppresses people with physical violence, emotional abuse, and linguistic trauma; colonizer remains in power due to skin color and embedded legal structure and other reasons; colonizer views land as ownable, private property; grievances continue; and whether or not people today are treated justly is arbitrarily dependent on the will and actions of land, farm, or business owners and whether or not the government gets involved. Other similarities between other places and Namibia that arise are that before colonization there was much greater access to land and water and now many native peoples are relegated (or protected, or somewhere between the two depending on whom you talk with or how you look at it) to reservations. Meanwhile the range of many kinds of plants and animals are drastically reduced as Western Thought fueled by Modern Machinery and Chemical Advances, etc. guides destruction on a scale not seen before in the history of the planet as we know it.
The video begins and ends with scenes of the Namibian countryside depicting desert, plant life, a few people, and farms. The video interviewees are farmers, farm workers, farm owners, and 1 social justice worker. Many if not most of them are black, though several whites are interviewed and given more screen time and attention in the film. (The internet says Namibia is 93% black and 7% white). All of the farm workers, as far I observed, were black. Many of them had (nice?) German-sounding names like Gottfried Kieb, Hans Karon, or Johannes Links. Some of these were paired with African, presumably Namibian surnames. One guy was even named Adam Niemand (if you look at the meanings of those names [my philosophy teacher may cringe here] you might call him "Man Nobody").
Some of the key words i picked out were:
-more than 2/3 of the population live on the land
-redistribution of wealth
-social responsibility - "we are only borrowing the land from our children"
-raising goats and cattle
-job security non-existent
-die EG (= Europäische Gemeinschaft = EC, European Community)
-Rand (a / the currency in Namibia)
-pay in rand vs. pay including housing, wood, & water
-Germans killing, "grabbed the land", should return it freely
-that was in the past, the reverse process would be unjust
-formerly wide land range --> reservations determined by the Germans
-beatings, dependence on owners' and/or owners' benevolence, lawlessness
-2% of farmers own 1/2 of the useable land
The video contained various languages: South African English, Afrikaans, German, and probably at least a few of the Namibian languages which i couldn't identify, though i'm pretty sure Herero and Oshiwamba were two that were spoken. The narrator spoke South African English and there were English subtitles throughout. The farm owners spoke either German or Afrikaans, and the workers either spoke solely in a native language or solely in Afrikaans or German. There was one worker who was clearly speaking in German and others who i thought might have been, but were probably speaking in Afrikaans or perhaps a mixture of that with some influence of a Namibian language. At any rate, i don't think anyone was actually shown speaking one language, then another, but the workers were the only ones shown speaking what was presumably a non-native language for them, i.e. they grew up speaking an African language, but spoke in German or Afrikaans or their native language for the camera. In other words, many of the colonized had learned the language of the colonizers, but i'm not sure whether any of the colonizers learned a language of the colonized or not.
All this is making me think about my language learning goals and the value of language learning in general. I feel like i learned Spanish because it seemed to be a logical language to learn because of so much historical and contemporary influence in CA and the West Coast/SW and the US in general and chose it over French, Italian, Latin, or Chinese. In retrospect perhaps Chinese would have been a better investment. But would i learn Chinook or Chinook Wa-Wa or Clickatat? Or one of the languages of the Ohlone where i grew up, perhaps Tamien or Ramaytush? On the other hand, it sort of was learning the language of the colonized, because of the eventual US take over of that land after, respectively, the natives, Mexico, New Spain.
Certainly languages are learned to access power, culture, and financial stability. But how often do we learn them to discover underlying or ancient wisdom or knowledge? To tap into a sense of place or spirituality? To discover the truths about the past or ourselves or others? To be able to advocate for justice? Do we learn the language of the homeless, those in prison, the oppressed, and the downtrodden? Hopefully i and others can and will do at least some of these things. I know some who are, and are doing a much better job than i currently am.
On another note, i recently saw some photographs online of a couchsurfer from the US sandboarding in Namibia. It looked fun and also quintessentially oblivious to the situation in the country, kind of like canopy tours in the jungle of Costa Rica or some incarnations of eco-tourism.
Does anyone else know anything else about Nambia or have some thoughts to share on the matter?