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Cheap Shots

September 19, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

There have been a variety of posts coming out recently critiquing the left for dismissing Trump's candidacy (Hillbilly Elegy, Strangers in their Own Land, and others). Today, it's Fabius Maximuson on Matt Taibi.

These critiques claim that people on the right are offended by liberals who refuse engage with them on the issues: Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler. I can see why they might call it a cheap shot.

But it's actually not. Trump ACTUALLY IS a fascist, by claiming irrationally that he's the only one that can fix things; by creating a cult of personality; by asserting that torture works and he'll use more of it; by claiming he can unilaterally circumvent the constitution to discriminate against people based on race and religion. Trump ACTUALLY DOES espouse anti-science and anti-reality positions. Trump is a fraud and a liar. It is not a cheap shot to point these things out. Rather, it is a cheap shot to claim that liberals "dismiss" Trump just because he spouts lies that some people want to hear. And a bunch of Trump's simplistic ideas are just stupid: like The Wall.

The US could build "a wall", but it would be a terrible use of resources. It would be much better to assess how best to effect change and to use the money thoughtfully for a hundred different policies (e.g. hire more staff, build better databases, etc.) and investments (buy drones, cameras, and early detection systems) that would give us the greatest bang for the buck. But that's complicated and requires policy wonks to develop and implement. And, unfortunately, that's not what a lot of people want to hear.

After the Massachusetts primary, I mused about the situation as I saw it: namely that there is a strong anti-establishment wind blowing in both parties and that it was a terrible mistake for the Democrats to double-down on the one person who is perhaps the greatest living embodiment of the elite establishment candidate.

while establishment Democrats would probably line up behind whoever the nominee is, the disaffected people will not. I suspect they will probably be a lot more willing to cross party lines: They don't care who burns everything down, as long as someone does. I really worry that being able to tap into the disaffected vote of both parties might be enough to carry Trump to victory.

The Democrats could have chosen Bernie. This is a consistent fatal pattern with the Democrats: picking the candidate whose turn it is, rather than looking at what the times and circumstances require. Still: we live in a democracy (sort of) and the people have spoken (sort of) and we'll just have to live with the consequences.

Brewer Stew

September 3, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Brewer Stew

Today I made a pot of Brewer Stew. This is an invention of my own with two main influences. Several years ago, at the tomato festival, a guy made something he called wild man stew which I liked a lot. And Buzz Hoagland makes a rather different stew that's also excellent. Mine is a sort of synthesis of the two. My recipe is rather simple: fill a big pot about half full with water. Throw in two pounds of italian sausage (I use links that I cook for a while; then remove, cut into slices, and then throw back in), diced potatoes, carrots, and sliced mushrooms to basically fill the pot. Season with pepper, salt, two bay leaves, and rather a lot of red wine. This is why I call it "Brewer Stew" because if you're drinking beer, what else are you going to do with the wine?

After it simmers for a couple of hours, it's ready to eat. And so am I.

Trump does not take positions

September 1, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

If one thing makes me angry about coverage during this political campaign, it's the assertion that Donald Trump might change his positions. From the Guardian:

Some in the crowd sensed that behind the brash reiteration of mass deportations Trump was in fact edging towards a more moderate, viable, policy. “I think he’s loosening up, becoming more realistic,” said Nancy Lewis, 56, a retired law enforcer. “And I’m OK with that. I have Hispanic friends.”

No. If one thing has become clear, Donald Trump does not take positions. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He does have some tendencies and prejudices that show up frequently, like xenophobia, ignorance, and vituperativeness. But these are not policy positions. He does not have a set of well-thought-out or carefully considered set of policies on anything.

Perhaps this is what attracts some people to him. Perhaps most people are like him in this regard: it's the rare person that can actually develop and maintain a coherent set of positions. In fact, nobody can really do it without a broadly trained set of policy advisors. But the mistake is believing that anything that Trump says represents an underlying, considered position. The only thing that is a constant is his ceaseless effort to angle for a momentary advantage.

It's a very weird election cycle.

Pintkunveno en NovJorko

August 27, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Je la 25a de aŭgusto, mi partoprenis pintkunvenon de ne-registaraj organizaĵoj fare de la Fondaĵo pri Monda Disvolviĝo. Mi iris al la Unuiĝintaj Nacioj kun Humphrey Tonkin kiel reprezentanto de Universala Esperanto Asocio. Partoprenis proksimume 50 homoj de diversaj ne-registaraj organizaĵoj por diversaj prelegoj kaj diskutoj.

Humphrey Tonkin

La celo de la pintkunveno estis disvastigi informojn pri la Celoj por Daŭripova Evoluiĝo.

Ediola Pashollari pritraktis la procezon por disvolviĝi politikon. Enuhee Jung gvidis diskuton pri tergloba civitaneco, la rolo de globaj firmaoj, kaj arto. Felix Dodds priskribis novan libron kiu temas la historion de la disvolviĝo de la celoj. Alice Chen kaj Robert Swap priskribis klerigajn programojn kiuj montris kiel oni strebas al la daŭripovaj celoj. Radhika Iyengar gvidis diskuton kiu ofertis starpunktojn pri la celoj de la malgrandaj insulo-ŝtatoj de Palaŭo kaj Maldivoj.

Finfine okazis dancan kaj muzikan spektaklon fare de trupo de ĉinaj junuloj de Ĵianga Etna Orfejo. Ili portis buntajn kostumojn kaj kantas kaj dancis bele.

Dancistinoj

Ne tute fifine, ĉar poste iu ĉina kuracisto montris diapozitivojn de sia oficejo kaj diversaj aparatoj. Mi supozis ke li donacis monon por subteni la kunsidon kaj pro tio postulis la rajton tedigi la partoprenantojn per siaj bildoj.

Poste, mi tagmanĝis kun Humphrey por diskuti kiel la Esperanto-movado povas ekuzi la celojn por daŭripova evoluigo por vidigi la Esperanto-movadon al la Unuiĝintaj Nacioj. Kaj por levi la demandojn pri lingvo kaj lingvaj rajtoj, kiuj mankas al la celoj.

Pri la Boschen Kolekto

August 13, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Jen artikoleto kiun mi verkis antaŭ du jaroj cele al Esperanto-revuo. Mi sendis ĝin — kaj eĉ alparolis la redaktoro pri ĝi ĉe la UK — sed ĝi neniam aperis. Pro tio ke mi verkis novan afiŝon pri tio kion mi faros por libroj indas, tamen, ke oni trovu la informon pri la kolekto nun, do mi afiŝas ĝin ĉi tie.

En frua decembro 2014, mi ricevis telefonvokon de filo de maljuna samideano Allan C. BOSCHEN por sciigi min ke la patro translokiĝis por esti pli proksima al parencoj. Li diris ke li traktas la posedaĵojn de sia patro kaj serĉas hejmon por kelkaj skatoloj da Esperantaj libroj. Li demandis ĉu mi povus akcepti la librojn por ke oni uzu ilin. Mi konsentis. Post kelkaj tagoj, li alvenis dum la frua vespero kaj ni enportis ok skatolojn da libroj en mian domon.

Antaŭ kelkaj jaroj, mi korespondis kun Humphrey TONKIN kiu ekserĉis estontan hejmon por sia biblioteko postmorte. Li demandis min pri la specialan kolekton ĉe Universitato de Masaĉuseco Amherst (kie mi estas fakultatano). Mi kontaktis la arĥiviston ĉe mia loka universitato, Robert S COX, kiu pretis akcepti la kolekton. Mi proponis tion al s-ro TONKIN, sed li decidis direkti sian bibliotekon aliloken. Mi bedaŭris la perdon ĉar mi tre volis havi tian kolekton proksime sed persone havas nek monon nek tempon nek lokon en la domo nek kapablon nek emon por organizi ĝin mem.

Kiam mi ricevis ĉi tiujn skatolojn, mi decidis kontakti s-ro COX denove. Li tuj memoris kaj ankoraŭ interesiĝis pri Esperanto. Montriĝas, ke li interesiĝas pri lingvoj ĝenerale kaj artefaritaj lingvoj speciale. Fakte, li entuziasmas pri Esperanto kaj same ege bedaŭris la perdon de la antaŭa biblioteko. Ni interŝanĝis kelkajn mesaĝojn. Post unudu tagoj, ni aranĝis la transdonon de la skatoloj al li kaj la biblioteko oficiale akceptis ilin kiel la unua paŝo al starigi kolekton de Esperantaj libroj.

Post kelkaj tagoj plu, mi vizitis la bibliotekon por esplori kio estis en la skatoloj. Mi tre intence ne entreprenis tion dum mi havis la skatolojn. Mi vere ne volas akiri pli da libroj kaj mi timis ke, se mi scios kiuj estas la libroj, mi sentos teruran tenton alpreni kelkajn el la libroj por mi mem. Sed mi ege kuriozis kio estas en la skatoloj.

Intertempe, s-ro COX elprenis la librojn, forigis la duoblajn ekzemplerojn, kaj aranĝis la unuopajn sur bretoj. Per interkonsento kun la familio, ĝi nomiĝas la Allan C. BOSCHEN Esperanto-Kolekto.

Maskerado

Montriĝas ke la kolekto estas sufiĉe interesa. S-ro BOSCHEN kolektis dum longa Esperanta vivo kaj kelkaj libroj ankaŭ venas de la biblioteko de John L LEWINE. D-ro LEWINE ekesperantiĝis en 1920, estis tre aktiva dum la tuta vivo, translokiĝis al okcidenta Masaĉuseco en sia emeritiĝo, kaj mortis en 1982. Mi memoris ke s-ro BOSCHEN kaj d-ro LEWINE estis konatoj kaj, supozeble, post la morto, li ricevis liajn librojn.

Entute estas 6 metroj da libroj (ambaŭ flankoj de bretaro) inter ili multaj interesaj ekzempleroj. Kompreneble estis diversaj lernolibroj kaj vortaroj -- s-ro COX speciale interesiĝis pri unudu vortaroj kaj libroj pri Ido. Kompreneble estas ankaŭ multaj esperantologiaj libroj ekz. la kolektitaj verkoj de Zamenhof, kaj diversaj movadaj eldonaĵoj, jarlibroj, ktp. Sed estas ankaŭ dekoj da libroj de literaturo kaj poezio, speciale el la Budapeŝtaj kaj Skotaj skoloj: AULD, BAGHY, BOULTON, KALOCSAY, kaj multaj aliaj. Tradukita literaturo abundas inkluvize belege bindita ekzemplero de "Dia Komedio". Estas ankaŭ diversaj sciencaj libroj, de NEERGAARD kaj aliaj, kaj diversaj terminologiaj tekstoj. Ankaŭ multaj kulturaj tekstoj pri diversaj mondpartoj, ekz "Aŭstralio: Lando kaj Popolo" de 1927. Mi speciale ĝojis vidi tre bone konservitan ekzempleron de unua eldono de "Maskerado Ĉirkaŭ la Morto" de Teodoro ŜVARC. Baldaŭ, la arĥivistoj faros liston de la libroj laŭ aŭtoro.

La kolekto estos konservita. Homoj ne povos rekte prunti de ĝi, sed povos viziti ĝin. Kaj peti, laŭeble, ke oni faru kopiojn por esploraj celoj. Mi esperas ke studentoj interesiĝos pri Esperanto kaj esploros ĝin. La kolekto povas fariĝi la komenco de Esperanto-agado en la regiono. La kolekto neniam estos same granda kiel la Esperanto-muzeo en Vieno, sed estas neniu simila biblioteko en la regiono. Ĝi estas komenco.

Sekve, s-ro COX volas kreskigi la kolekton. Li jam aĉetis kelkajn librojn por pligrandigi la kolekton kaj bonvenigas kontribuojn. Li ankaŭ pripensas novajn akirojn, inkluzive la plenan verkaron de Zamenhof.

Teatra Korbo

La kolekto jam kreskiĝas. Kelkaj lokaj esperantistoj jam kontribuas interesajn librojn, speciale librojn kiuj bezonas konservadon. Inter ili troviĝas subskribitan ekzempleron de La Teatra Korbo fare de Julio Baghy. Ĝi estis presita en 1934 per acida papero kaj la paĝoj ne-eviteble fariĝas frakasiĝemaj. Estas bone ke la libro oni prizorgos por ke ĝi restu havebla al la publiko, se nur por viziti. Ĉio estas bonvena, tamen. S-ro COX speciale ekscitiĝis pri kuirlibro kiu estis inter la lastaj aldonaĵoj.

Kiam mi ekserĉis hejmon por la kolekto, mi kontaktis Esperanto-USA kaj lernis ke ili dum kelkaj jaroj akceptas la bibliotekojn de forpasintoj, sed nur por disvendi ilin. Mi certas ke ni povas fari pli bone.

Antaŭ tridek jaroj, Aaron LANSKY, studento pri la Yida lingvo, konstatis ke la gefiloj forĵetas la librojn de siaj Yidaj gepatroj. Li decidis organizi Yidan Libro-Centron por konservi ilin. Komence, ili povis nur elpreni ilin de la rubujo, sed nun ili havas modernan esplorcentron por pristudi la librojn kaj klerigi la publikon pri la Yidaj lingvo kaj kulturo.

Mi ne trompas min ke pri Esperanto ni povus fari same. La esperantistaro estas nek tiel granda nek havas tiel profundajn poŝojn. Samtempe, ni ne simple rezignu ke ĉion forpasu senlukte. Ni havas amikon ĉe la arĥivon de UMass Amherst. Ili volas konservi ne nur librojn sed ankaŭ revuojn, ĵurnalojn, korespondadon, kaj ĉiajn Esperantaĵojn. Mi invitas la esperantistaron subteni nin per mono kaj libroj kaj dokumentoj. Usonanoj povas ricevi rabaton kontraŭ la impoŝtoj por mondonaĉo -- aŭ eĉ por la valoro de libroj. Ĉiaj kontribuoj estas bonvole akceptitaj.

Legu pri la plej novaj kontribuoj al la Boschen Kolekto en Kion mi faros por libroj.

Kion mi faros por libroj

August 13, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Mi afiŝis pri la Boschen Kolekto post la apero de ĉi tiu artikolo.

Antaŭ kelkaj monatoj, mi ricevis mesaĝon de Humphrey Tonkin kiu nun prizorgas la oficejon de Universala Esperanto Asocio en NovJorko. Li scias ke mi serĉas librojn por la Boschen Kolekto kaj proponis donaci librojn de la oficejo kiujn li volis forigi. Li proponis ke mi venu por simpozio kiun li organizis kaj kunportu aŭton por ke mi forprenu 6 skatolojn de libroj samtempe. Bedaŭrinde, la simpozio okazis dum la lasta semajno de mia kurso kaj mi devis konservi tiun tagon por helpi miajn studentojn, do ne povis iri. Ni provis denove en junio, sed finfine mi nek povis tiam. Hieraŭ, post longa prokrasto, mi ekvojaĝis al NovJorko en aŭto por renkonti Humphrey, akiri la librojn (nun 8 skatolojn -- eble ili reproduktas sin), kaj tagmanĝi kune.

Antaŭ du tagoj, kiam la edzinjo provis starti la aŭton, ĝi ne funkciis por ŝi. Mi provis kaj ĝi tuj startis por mi. Mi iom zorgis ĉu estas bona ideo veturi centoj da kilometroj kun nefidinda aŭto, sed sen alia rimedo, decidis riski ĝin.

Kiel junulo mi loĝis en la kamparo kaj havis timon pri grandaj urboj. Mi evitis urbojn plejparte (kaj ankoraŭ evitas ilin laŭeble). Sed kiam mi vojaĝas al urbo, mi lernis antaŭlonge ne vojaĝu tien per aŭto — speciale en la orienta flanko de usono. En Kalifornujo, estis sufiĉe da loko por la vojoj kaj sufiĉajn ŝildojn por trovi la ĝustan vojon. Ĉe la orienta marbordo, la vojoj estas pli mallarĝaj kaj sen sufiĉajn ŝildoj por tiu, kiu ne jam konas la vojon.

Mi kontrolis la vojon antaŭe per Google Maps por kalkuli kiam mi forlasu la domon. Estas mirinde ke komputiloj povas ne nur proponi vojaĝon sed ankaŭ sciigi konstraŭdon aŭ trafikon por konsili pli rapidan vojaĝon.

En frua mateno, kun granda taso de kafo, mi ekiris. Estis varmega tago -- ege humida. Kiam mi haltis por benzino en Connecticut, vaporo kondensis sur miajn okulvitrojn kaj mi devis forpreni ilin kaj uzi la pumpilon blinde. Vojflanke, mi vidis marmoton kiu staris apud arbeto. Per siaj manoj, li provis kapti per la antaŭaj piedoj la subaj folioj. Sub grandaj kverkoj, meleagroj vagis dum mi preterkondukis. Mi precipe feliĉis ke ili ne vagis en la vojon.

Tuj post mi eliris la ŝoseon en Manhattan, mi telefonis al Humphrey por sciigi lin ke mi estas alvenonta. Li respondis "Brile!" kaj diris ke li havas lokon antaŭ la konstruaĵo por parkumi la aŭton dum alport la librojn. Post du minutoj, mi alvenis kaj trovis Humphrey gardante la lokon. Ni eniris la konstruaĵon kaj ĉe la UEA oficejo li havis ĉareton. Li prenis la skatolon unu post alia kaj donis ilin al mi. Per du vojaĝoj, ni portis la ok skatolojn al la aŭto. Sukceso!

Poste, ni alparolis la pordiston por diskuti kie parkumi la aŭton dum tagmanĝo. En NovJorkUrbo plimalpli mankas surstratan parkumejojn. La pordisto propoponis parkumejon sur la sama strato kiel la konstruaĵo, sed du stratanguloj en la malĝusta direkto -- ĉiuj stratoj en Manhattan estas unudirektaj. Li klarigi ke mi pluiru laŭ la 44a, turnu maldekstren ĉe 1a strato, turnu maldekstren je 45a, turnu maldekstren je la 2a, turnu dekstren je la 43a, turnu dekstren je la 3a, kaj turnu dekstren je la 44a kaj jen! Surprize, ĝi estis same facila. Ĉe la parkumejo, oni klarigis ke, se mi revenos je la 2a horo kostos $46, kaj poste estos $56.

La Eta Ruĝa Libro

Mi promenis refoje al la UEA oficejo. Kiu estis varmega tago en la kamparo fariĝis vere flamanta tago en la urbocentro. En la oficejo, mi babilis gaje dum horo kun Humphrey. Li diris al mi kelkajn novajn rakontojn kaj mi povis paroli al li pri la kolekto kaj aliaj lastaj novaĵoj. Antaŭ ol foriri al la restoracio, Humphrey serĉis ion por "donaci" al mi. Mi jam havis lian tradukon de Korĵenkov. Tiam li prenis ruĝan skatoleton kiu enhavis diversajn malnovajn librojn pri internacia politiko. Inter ilin, mi tuj rekonis la "eta ruĝa libro" de Mao Zedong, sed tio estas nur unu el multaj tre interesaj aferoj. Mi protestis ke mi ne volas porti ĝin al restoracio kaj li trovis sakon kaj metis la skatolon en ĝi: "Jen! Nun vi devas preni!" li diris.

La tagmanĝo estis festo por adiaŭi staĝanton kiu laste laboris en la UEA oficejo. Ni iris al turka restoracio kelkaj stratoj for kaj atendis la aliajn. La tagmanĝo ofertis elektojn de antaŭmanĝo kaj plado. Mi manĝis "cacik" (jogurta-kukumaĵo) kaj turka "kefto" -- speco de kebabo. La plado ankaŭ havis rostitan pipron kiu aspektis sufiĉe ordinara sed montriĝis ege spica. Ege ege spica. Sed ĉio estis tre bona.

Finfine, mi adiaŭis al ĉiuj -- mi gratulis al la staĝanto kaj deziris estontan sukceson kaj promenis al la parkumejo. Mi pagis la $56 kaj ekvojaĝis hejmen. La eliro de la urbo estis tre longa pro la densa trafiko, sed mi finfine alvenis hejmen.

Mi ankoraŭ ne sukcesis kontakti la bibliotekiston do la libroj ankoraŭ okupas la tuton de la malantaŭo de mia aŭto. Sed mi havis hazardan renkontigon kiu meritis ĉion. La kanceliero de la universitato preterpasis mian aŭton kaj salutis min do mi elsaltis por demandi ĉu li volas vidi ion mirindan. Kaj mi montris al li, senvorte, la etan ruĝan libron. Li vere miris, ĉar li scias ke mi parolas Esperanton, sed nur iom post iom konstatas kiom granda kaj interesa estas la historio de Esperanto. Mi mallonge rankontis al li pri la kolekto kaj li premis al mi la manon kaj salutis min bonkore. Sukceso!

A Weekend of Socializing

August 1, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Reggae at Look Park Craft Beer fest

Somehow all of my social events for the summer lined up on the same weekend. I took Lucy out to the library early so she would be supplied with reading material, and then was picked up by Dave Gross to go to the first Look Park Craft Beer and Wine festival. It was held in The Pines, an outdoor theater at Look Park. I suggested we arrive a bit early to aid in finding a place to park. We were walking up right as they started letting people in. They were efficient at handing out tickets, checking ID, and putting wrist-bands on people. In short order, we were inside.

Dave and I found a place to set up at the end of a table and we started off with a glass of BLDG8. Then we started trying other things. My only peeve was that their printed guide was incomplete and did not correspond with reality. If you held it upside down and looked through the paper, some of the booths lined up with their actual organization. But a bunch did not. Eventually I decided you would need to fold the guide into a tesseract for it to work and discovered that neither Buzz nor Dave had read A Wrinkle in Time. Shocking. Tom Hoogendyk had his children and was able to keep them both entertained AND still have an adult conversation or two.

The music was nice. It was a touch loud for my taste, but much better than almost all similar venues lately. I loved seeing the rasta singer dancing, singing, and carrying his daughter. Charming.

After trying a bunch of things, I began to just go back to the BLDG8 booth to get more IPA. Dave gave me a bit of a hard time about not being willing to try new things. I countered that I had tried at least a dozen things. The next time I came back to the table with a glass and took a meditative sip, "Now that's good!" I said.

Dave looked on with interest and asked "Is that the Hydra?"

"No, it's BLDG8."

We had a great time.

Shortly after I got home, Alisa and I left for a party at Cinda Jones' house. She always brings together interesting and eclectic groups of people. The theme this year was Christmas in July with lobsters. Alisa brought something to share for the party. I took along a case of BLDG8, but Alisa kept it on the QT and doled them out only for the people who would really appreciate them. It was kind of charming and subversive.

I was pleased to meet Monte Belmonte. He was interested to learn I was John Hodgman's official Esperanto translator. He took a picture of me to mention it to John, who promptly sent his salutations.

On Sunday morning, I mentioned to Lucy, in telling her about the party, that lobster was OK, but I liked crab better. Lucy said she's basically never had lobster. I suggested that I should take her for a lobster roll at McDonalds -- a plan we put into action immediately. As you drive toward the Cape, you start seeing lobster rolls advertised everywhere and we'd gotten them a couple of times, so I had some idea what they were supposed to be like. The McDonald's lobster roll is a solid contender: the lobster was good and the roll was fresh and tasty. But I still like crab better.

In the afternoon, I convened our local Esperanto group at Hangar to meet with Julie Schwartz visiting from Boston. She was mostly visiting to attend a party in the evening with another friend who lives in Amherst, but we took advantage of her trip to chat for few minutes. We had Julie and Julie, Rodger, Roger, Sebastian, and Lucy. And me. Julie is also a co-organizer of ARE so it was nice to talk about that face-to-face for a few minutes too.

Unsuccesful Errands

July 24, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

After weeks traveling, visiting, hosting, and doing, I finally got a weekend to stay home and relax. First, we had the wonderful trip to Illinois, then Pedal to Pints, then my physical, then St. Croix, then visitors, and then finally a day to myself. Oh, my. But then Lucy got sick. Normally, we would go together to do errands on Saturday: go to the library, the farmer's market, and the supermarket. But Lucy wanted to stay home. I decided that, since Lucy didn't want to go, I would just go to the supermarket and get ingredients to make chili. I mentioned to Alisa that she might want to go to the farmer's market to get the stuff that Lucy would normally get, so she got up and went with me. Well, normally, I'm pretty goal directed about running errands: I go to get specific things and, if I see something else, well OK then. But I don't wander up and down and up and down looking at every single thing several times. But that's just how Alisa rolls. Eventually, we finish up at the farmer's market and Alisa says she wants to go to Maple Farm Foods. I'm like "Where?" I mean, I've seen it before -- it's near the bike trail -- but I've never been inside there. "You mean that ice-cream place?" She's like, "Wut?"

When we get there, I head for the front door and she's all "I didn't even know they *had* this door!" And we get inside and I'm like, "Wow! There's like a whole grocery store in here!" Well, sorta. It's an odd, eclectic mix with a bit of everything: ice-cream and candy, hot food, deli, salad bar, produce, beer, wine, and lots of weird ethnic foods.

They were doing an open house with a bunch of demos and samples and were just getting set up. We walked through once and then again. After the third time, I was starting to flip out. And then I realized what it really was: the place had narrow aisles and had become stuffed with people. I can only take being crowded in with a lot of people for a few minutes before I need to get out. Once I realized that, was what it was I went outside and sat calmly in the shade while Alisa made her purchases. There are lovely Rose of Charon bushes all around the front of the building that I could sit and look at.

In the end, however, I never got to the store to buy ingredients for chili -- the one thing I had wanted to get done. But Alisa got to buy random weird stuff -- her favorite thing! And I went to the store on Sunday morning to get fixings for chili. Problem solved.

Swimming with the Jellies

July 9, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

The first time I came to St. Croix, I was too cheap and too poor to buy goggles with corrective lenses. My vision is pretty poor without glasses. One eye is quite different than the other. So I got regular googles and just accepted I couldn't see very much while snorkeling.

Using lenses from old glasses, I made two versions of my own corrective goggles. The first time, I put a single drop of super glue and stuck the lenses in the goggles. It worked pretty well, except that the middle of the lens is exactly where you're looking -- so you can see pretty well, except for what you want to look at. :-/ The next time, I glued lenses onto three buttons placed at the corners of the lenses and then glued the buttons into the goggles, They worked pretty well and I used them for years. They catastrophically failed the last time I was here: I put my face in the water and they immediately filled up with saltwater -- which was a huge surprise.

I had intended to replace them at my leisure before I came down. But I'm by nature too lazy to get around to things like that. But I brought my prescription hoping that maybe I could buy something while on island. When we arrived, I went to one of the local dive shops who said they didn't really have anything for sale. I was ready to give up, but Alisa checked with another local shop and found that they could order something promptly that used individual pre-ground lenses for each side. They just correct for distance -- not for astigmatism -- but probably good enough, I thought. So we put in the order and held our breath.

I was very excited when the lenses came in: I took my goggles back to the shop and he installed the lenses. We came back to Cottages and I ran out to the beach and jumped into the water. AND I COULD SEE! Jellies! Jellies! And more jellies! EVERYWHERE! Not wanting to get painfully stung, I promptly jumped back out of the water.

I was about ready to give up when Daniel brought one back in a bowl and I realized they weren't jellyfish -- they were Ctenaphores, or Comb Jellies. They're not stingy. Actually, I had always wanted to see a ctenaphore -- they're almost transparent and have rows of cilia that are supposed to bioluminesce. So I ran back out and jumped back into the water. There were so many ctenaphores, it was like swimming through jelly. There were millions of them. Billions of them.

And I could see! I could see the sand! I could see the rocks! I could see the fish and the flounder and the crabs. And the tube worms and the sponges and coral.

At night, Buzz and I took dive lights out for a night-dive. There was a huge bunch little planktonic organisms and came along with the comb jellies —— maybe larvae of something. But the water was thick with little critters swimming around. If you turned the lights off a lot of them would flicker and flash like fire flies. We swam out to a big rock and watched the fish in the lights. We saw a big spiny lobster -- their eyes glow in the lights. On the way back, I looked for comb jellies without the lights. They didn't seem to luminesce much, but then I bumped one and the rows of cilia lit up like Christmas trees. Beautiful.

In the morning, I went out early to collect cullet for another old rum bottle filled with sea glass. It's a lot easier to find it when you can actually see. Who'da thunk it?

Coming Home to the Islands

July 2, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

We arrived on St. Croix late Monday evening after a long day of travel. We had gotten cheaper tickets by agreeing to a long (8 hour) layover in Miami Once, when we had a long layover in San Juan we stayed in the Admiral's Club which made it much more tolerable. We looked into that this time, but both were under construction. So I found us a quiet lounge and we mostly just hung out there. But then our flight was moved to another gate and we rode on the sky train. Then it was delayed and so we hung out a bit longer. But eventually we arrived to St. Croix where Buzz met us at the airport with a jug of rum & grapefruit juice. It felt like coming home.

We've been coming to St. Croix for a dozen years. The first time we came Daniel was just a little guy who had only learned to swim the week before. Now, he will turn 18 while we're on island. We plan to visit the distillery, which he's visited many times before, but never been able to sample the rum at the end of the tour.

We haven't come every year: last year I used the resources I might have used to come to St. Croix so Phil and I could go to the Universala Kongreso in Lille. I was really happy to go and to spend time with Phil. But I've been missing St. Croix all year.

I don't think I would want to live here full time. I worry that after a couple of weeks, it would start to lose its magic. It is like magic when you step off the plane and smell the tropical air. And when you come over the hill down to the coast and see the blue Caribbean Ocean laid out before you.

I love the easy-going attitude of the people. Nothing really works the way you expect. But that's OK. It's usually close enough and as long as you don't bring any expectations, it's fine. Centerline bakery doesn't have any pastries? Let's try Nacho's! There's no rental car available? There'll probably be one tomorrow…

Now that we've had a few days to settle in, some new folks are coming in tonight for a week. Tomorrow is Emancipation Day and Monday is the Fourth, for which Buzz has planned a little symposium for archeologists, turtle people, and mongoose people to all present some of our on-going projects. And we've got a bunch of on-projects to talk about.

All too soon, we'll be packing up to head home. And I'll be glad to get home. Like Rose always says, if you never leave, you can't come back. I'm already looking forward to coming back.

Mike's Place

June 6, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

In early June, Lucy, Daniel and I headed west to visit Phil in Champaign. From experience, we know that we can usually get across New York and Pennsylvania in one full day of driving, and we often aim for Kent to spend the night. The first time, I was interested in visiting the memorial at Kent State and, the next time through, with both boys, we went early in the morning to visit the spot and reflect before pushing through.

Monumento

This year, we had gotten a good start and we arrived a bit earlier than usual. Once we were checked in, we explored toward Kent to look for dinner. I noticed a place, called Mike's Place that seemed totally packed. That's usually a good vote of confidence, but it seemed so full we might have trouble finding a place to park or getting a table. But after exploring and rejecting the other options (like Bob Evans) we pulled in to check it out. Then we noticed the X-Wing fighter parked in front and it seemed like an even better choice.

Mike's Place

Once inside, we got a table much more quickly than I had expected and then were confronted with the menu. It appears that, served with every one of the hundreds of possible entrees, you also get a side-dish of attitude for free. Toward the end, you can find "Rules of Dining at Mike's Place" that include nuggets of wisdom like "Only Mike or Managers may refer to waitress staff as Serving Wenches. (They call us managers Studpuppets! Honest!)". It was a charming place with an incredibly diverse range of dining options. I got the I AM SO CONFUSED, BUT I LIKE IT! for $6.29.

We take gyro meat, corn beef, Swiss, homemade Blue cheese dressing & grilled rye & Wham! So many flavors, it’s too good to be just a sandwich, maybe it’s a Super Sandwich!

They had an IPA by Deschutes I was interested in trying, but when I got it, it was terrible -- it was kind of malty and plain. I then tried the Yuengling IPL which was better. When I got the receipt, I discovered they'd served me a Dos Equis instead of the IPA. Oh, well. Nobody's perfect. I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I don't get Dos Equis because that stuff is nasty.

All in all, it was a very satisfactory experience and one well worth repeating if we stay in Kent again.

Weekend Bicycling

May 30, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

With Pedal2Pints coming up, I'm trying to get lots of time in the saddle so I'll be ready. I've riding to work most days and have taken a few longer rides, including to the ends of the bike trail -- ~20 miles round trip. And the long weekend looked like a good opportunity to get some riding in. But it was hot.

On Saturday, I meant to get out early, but delayed too long. By the time I set out, it was already sweltering with temps in the high 80s. I ended up riding to downtown Amherst where I discovered the town was packed due to an Amherst College reunion. All of the outside tables at Amherst Coffee were taken, but when I arrived at the Black Sheep, a table opened up just as I arrived. I parked my bike and left my helmet on the table to claim it. When I poked my head in the door, the room was jammed with people. So I sat outside and drank water for a few minutes until the line went down. Then I ordered a small latte and enjoyed it sitting on the sidewalk by Sweester Park. I noticed that the out-of-town traffic was crazy, though. People kept racing back and forth in cars.

Aŭtoj rapidas
kaj unu la alian
provas pasigi.
Mi nur vojflanke sidas
kaj trinketas la kafon.

In the afternoon, I rode downtown again to help run the Amherst Media table at the Rotary Fair. Attendance at the fair seemed a bit low due to the high temperatures (in the mid 90s) and we also had a brief shower that was momentarily quite heavy. It was a lovely way to to spend an afternoon with friends and, afterwards, I could mostly just coast home.

On Sunday, I got out a bit earlier and rode to the bike trail. The last section of the Swift Way before you reach the Norwottuck Trail is pretty steeply uphill. At the top, I stopped briefly on one of the benches there and rested before continuing on. I debated whether to go down, toward the river, or up, toward downtown. I decided to go up and see if I could get coffee at Amherst Coffee. I got back on my bike and started riding. I pushed on up the trail and then turned and headed up the long hill into downtown. I crested the hill, coasted into downtown, and parked by Amherst Coffee. Then I discovered I had lost my phone.

I normally carry my phone in a shirt pocket for playing ingress, but I was wearing an Istvan Bierfaristo shirt that doesn't have a pocket. So I had put my phone in my back pocket. But when I sat on the bench, I had to take my phone out of my pocket and I realized I must have left it on the bench.

So I headed back. I rode back up the hill by Amherst College and then coasted back down to the trail and down the trail to the bench. And my phone was still there.

At that pointed, I decided that what I needed rather than coffee was beer -- and it was nearly lunchtime -- so I rode back to Hangar and sat outside until a waitress came to inquire whether I wanted anything. I admitted that I'd been hoping someone would bring me some beer if I waited long enough. She assured me that my wait was nearly over and brought me back a beer menu.

I've been really happy with Hangar since they took over the Amherst Brewing Company's food service operation. They have a great selection of beer and the food is excellent. I ordered a pint of Wormtown's Be Hoppy while I looked over the menu. I got a couple of samples to try: the Lagunitas Waldos Special Ale and Maine Beer Company's Another One IPA. They were both interesting and different. The Another One was citrusy -- almost lemony -- while the Special Ale had a whole palette of interesting flavors. At 11.5% alcohol, you can only get it in small glasses, but I got a small glass anyway to savor the interesting flavors at more depth.

Eventually, it was time to leave to get home in time for the Cardinal's game with Lucy. But I was glad to get some riding in as Memorial Day was scheduled to be rainy. (Although it's nice to have an excuse to not go out and ride today. :-)

Malbona Esperantisto

May 20, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Pasintsomere, mi vojaĝis al la 100a Universala Kongreso. Mi ekvojaĝis kun mia frato. Ni decidis paroli nur Esperante survoje kaj dum la kongreso, do ni pasigis pli ol semajno en Esperantujo. Finfine, dum la fruaj matenaj horoj en Islando, survoje hejme, ni babilis iomete en la angla kaj, iom post iom, transiris tute al la angla. Kaj mi parolis Esperanton, almenaŭ iomete, ĉe ARE en oktobro.

Dum la aŭtuno, tamen, mia loka grupo ĉesis kunveni. Mi provis organizi kelkajn aferojn sensukcese kaj ĉesis provi en januaro. Ekde tiam, mi apenaŭ parolis Esperanton.

Tio ne signifas ke mi neniel uzas Esperanton: mi legas aferojn ĉe Facebook kaj mi finlaboris mian lastan libron Ideoj Ĝermas. Sed mi konstatis hodiaŭ ke mi nek aŭdas Esperanton nek parolas ĝin dum semajnoj. Aŭ monatoj. Kaj mi sentas min iomete sola.

Mi iom bedaŭras ke mi ne partoprenas MeKaRon ĉisemajnfine. Mi nek partoprenas Landan Kongreson nek NASKon nek Universalan Kongreson. Mi estas malbona esperantisto.

Mi tamen havas kelkajn novajn projektojn kiujn mi antaŭenigas. Mi proponas traduki librojn el Esperanto por eldonejo -- Ni vidu ĉu ili akceptos la proponon. Mi ankaŭ ĵus akceptis postenon kiel redaktoro por Terglobaj Voĉoj. Tio por mi estas reveno ĉar antaŭlonge, mi verkis serion da artikoloj por reklami projekton kiun mi faris por la t.n. Ligo por Esperanto en Norda Ameriko.

Mi bedaŭras ke mia loka grupo forvelkas. Mi pensas ke eble mi decidu re-aktivigi ĝin kiel ĝi estas unue: mi elektu lokon kaj "kunvenu" tie, spite tio, kion aliaj volas fari. Ili plej often ne volas kunveni ĉiaokaze, do mi sentas ke mi povas fari kion ajn mi volas. Kaj se ili volas veni, des pli bone. Kaj, se ne, eble aliaj venos.

Journey or destination

May 19, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

Philip writes about summer work and setting up some goals for the summer. In looking at his goals, he realizes that some are things he wants to "do" and other are things he wants to "get done", so he changes them to all be things he wants to do.

I've always found the journey vs destination metaphor to be more useful. I've never been very interested in going out to ride my bike around: I want to have a destination. And I find it very satisfying to get there. Sometimes it's OK to just noodle around aimlessly, but I'm not likely to push myself or try very hard that way.

That said, I try to be mindful all along the way. I stop to look at flowers, take side trips to explore new places along the way, or just to rest and look toward the mountains. And to be prepared to shift to a different destination if something else seems better.

To me, that's what the distinction is: I'm not undertaking a journey for the journey's sake. I'm setting out for myself: to get somewhere. It doesn't have to be somewhere new or exciting, but I'd have a hard time traveling without some kind of goal in mind. Imagine it:

Fred says, "What are you doing this summer?"

George replies, "I'm going to travel."

Fred says, "Oh! Where are you going?"

George replies, "Well, I'll be in a car for a while. And then maybe I'll go on a train. And then..."

Fred interrupts, "No. I mean what is your destination?"

George replies, "What is this 'destination' of which you speak? I'm going to travel!"

I remember the metaphor I used when I was working on my dissertation. To me, it was like crossing a mountain range: I spent a year going back and forth looking for an easy pass over the mountain range and when I couldn't find one, I began climbing up first one mountain and then another. In the middle, it looked like mountains all around and I was totally unable to imagine how I'd gotten there or how I would ever finish. But, eventually, I climbed up the last mountain and then was down the other side and through before I knew it.

Having a destination gives meaning to the journey. I mean, it's a little like "walking". Without a destination, you might as well be playing golf.

Barbara Madeloni Re-elected

May 16, 2016 by Steven D. Brewer

In recent years, I've had to chose whether to attend graduation or MTA Annual Meeting. This year, however, they were scheduled on different weekends and it was a pleasure to be able to do both.

I'd gotten disgusted with the MTA leadership and then was so amazed and pleased when Barbara Madeloni was elected president. She's struggled because many in the leadership failed to give her their support, but in spite of that I think she's done an excellent job. She's really changed the dialog about education and unions in the state. It's been an incredible turnaround. But Barbara was up for re-election and she had two opponents: the guy she beat last time and the current vice-president.

The turn out to the meeting was huge -- so large that, although we usually had tables, they had to set up stadium seating to fit in enough chairs.

MTA Annual Meeting

I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I was encouraged when I went to the Educators for a Democratic Union caucus meeting and found that one in three participants was a first-timer. It was incredible to see how many new members had come to make a difference!

Once again, the public schools are facing an existential threat. The monied interests want to privatize the schools and have put a measure on the ballot that would allow them to open a dozen new charter schools every year. That means they could wipe out the public schools in two or three towns every year. Reports are that they've raised $18 million to devote to passing the measure.

The MTA and AFT are working together to defeat it in a coalition called Save Our Public Schools. The main piece of business at Annual Meeting was to approve our contribution toward the funding. It was going to require some tough choices. As we debated the issues, the election was going on.

My main frustration is that almost every election cycle, we have to face another threat from enemies with deep pockets that play mischief with the law. Our legislators tell us they hate ballot measures and so we haven't run any. But yet we end up having to defend ourselves and it's bleeding us dry. One year, it was to defeat a ballot measure that would have eliminated the income tax. Another year, it was to allow administrators to fire teachers more-or-less arbitrarily.

I think we should go on the offense. I think we should launch our own ballot measures and require them to fight us. The first one I'd do is to require charter school teachers to be in the same collective bargaining unit as the local public schools. But we have enough MTA members that if JUST OUR MEMBERS signed on, we could put measures on the ballot. We could do five or ten or a dozen. Maybe that would get someone's attention.

In the end, Barbara was handily reelected -- and allies won several of the races for Director and Executive Committee seats. Unfortunately, Barbara's enemies combined forces to defeat the vice-presidential candidate that was running with her, which I thought was really unfortunate because I had been, by far and away, more impressed with her ideas and vision than any of the others.

I also noticed that the reactionary forces in the union are weakening. When their spokespersons would come to the mic, you could almost predict that the body would vote against them. The MTA is odd: very strongly progressive related to unionism and public education, but extremely divided with respect to many other conservative causes. But the infusion of new blood means that the times they are a'changing.

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