Log in

jake ben zebra's Journal
[Most Recent Entries] [Calendar View] [Friends]

Below are the 18 most recent journal entries recorded in jake ben zebra's LiveJournal:

Monday, June 4th, 2007
10:23 pm
Academic Year nearing end
Since returning from India [a story in itself; maybe I'll find time to blog it sometime] I've been working as a Reference Librarian 15 hrs/week at Highline Community College, 5 miles south of the Sea-Tac Airport. A couple of weeks before Spring Quarter started it became evident that the librarian who was scheduled to teach the "Reference Services" course in the college's Library and Information Services program (formerly the Library Technician program) could not do so for health reasons, so I was tapped as a substitute. Ever since I've been scrambling, first to assemble a reasonable course outline, compose a syllabus, and then lead the class through it. Seventeen students, half of them online-only, means a LOT of work reading and answering email correspondence and especially grading weekly projects. Most of them are quite serious and cooperative, so have been a joy to work with. Three speak Russian as their first language, so have all the usual difficulties of ESL students in understanding American idiomatic speech PLUS the vagaries of library jargon, but they are doing remarkably well nevertheless. 
But now the end of the quarter approaches, and with it the dreaded Course Evaluation. I'll find out in a couple of weeks what they thought of me and my attempts to teach them how to help library patrons at the Reference Desk.
Sunday, January 15th, 2006
10:07 pm
Party ends solsticing
We just had a Bright Morning Star party to end our brief period of "solsticing"--a nonsecterian version of "secret santa" gift giving. We had a couple of bottles of leftover sparkling cider, some of Rosy's baked gluten-free goodies, chocolate-covered candied ginger, and cranberry gel candies. We shared the nice things our "solsticers" had done for each of us and then our visions and plans for the coming year. We finished by cleaning up to the sounds of "Emma's Revolution", one of my favorite activist song groups. A nice comfortable finish to the holiday season.

Tomorrow is the big Martin Luther King Jr celebration in Seattle--calling for No More Katrinas and No More Wars. I plan to march with the CCEJ banner, unless several other people show up when I'll serve with the Peacekeeper Pool as usual. No trouble anticipated, but you never know...

Last night our housemate Tom joined us in watching all six episodes of the TV show "A Force More Powerful" about examples of nonviolent social power overcoming violent repression. [Produced in 2000, obtained from the public library.] The videos didn't analyze or put the stories in context, but the accompanying book does a good job of that. Tom had not been through the educational experiences that Rosy and I have had, so a lot was new to him; we got to throw in lots of corroborative detail and personal stories as well.

On Friday I leave for San Antonio, Texas, to attend the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, as the delegate of the Washington Library Association. I've been asked to run for that office again, since no one else filed by the deadline, and with Rosy's support I agreed. We're likely to take up at least one new resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act and one supporting school librarians. I'm excited to be involved, though I expect to be too busy to see much of the local area. One of the most exciting things for me is the prospect of getting the Social Responsibilities Round Table to sponsor ecolibrarian.org. Finally, an effective way to get more people involved so it can become active.

Current Mood: excited
Friday, November 25th, 2005
11:08 pm
Aberdeen Full Time
Having quit my full time job in mid-July, I started working part time at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen in mid-September. Then, when the full time librarian there left early for parental leave, I got to take over her hours. Aberdeen is much too far away from Seattle to commute daily, so I'm staying at a motel downtown three nights and working one 8 hour shift, two 11-hour shifts, and one 6 hour shift until December 8. Then I'll have off until classes start on January 4. Two big excitements: I've connected with some of the faculty members who teach in areas of interest: natural resources, biology, and history, and I get to teach the introductory library course both winter and spring courses. This will be great experience for trying to obtain employment at the community colleges closer to Seattle.
Sunday, October 2nd, 2005
9:48 pm
new job, long commute
As of last week my latest period of unemployment is at an end--I'm now the part time Reference Librarian at Grays Harbor College <http://www.ghc.ctc.edu> for 15 hours per week--just enough that they don't have to pay benefits--at $33 per hour--just enough to attract me to work there. I spent my first week there figuring out how I could manage a 120-mile commute--so far the best deal is staying Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Olympic Inn Motel and traveling to and from Aberdeen by public bus. If I bring most or all of my food I can save most of my salary, and the deal will work OK financially. Now, if only I could get my ecological librarian project going.

Current Mood: optimistic
Saturday, April 30th, 2005
11:35 pm
not much left of today
Had a great day, though. I spent most of it at the annual retreat of the Northwest Intentional Communities Association <http://www.ic.org/nica/> with about 20 other people. Most of them were quite experienced communitarians so we had some great story sharing and a panel discussion of gender roles in communities. My sense of idealism is definitely recharged after seeing the beautiful grounds of the "Wise Acres" community near Indianola <http://www.wise-acres.org/>. They are definitely improving the quality of life for the whole area, as the attached Persephone Farm supplies vegetables to a lot of people through a CSA and they've preserved a lot of open space which they let the neighbors use.
Also on the trip I traveled with anansi133, who will visit us next week as a potential housemate. He's got a lot of experience in IC living, including the very intense life at Alpha Farm. I look forward to introducing him to our other housemates next week.
Friday, February 11th, 2005
10:00 pm
On Feb 1 I jammed my foot falling downstairs, and it got infected. So on Wednesday of this week I finally went to the doctor to have it looked at, and simultaneously came down with a bad case of the flu! So I've spent the last two days primarily in bed, trying but failing to sleep. It's interesting how the apathy generated by the fever allowed me not to feel the pain of boredom.
Tonight I felt much better, and have been seriously reading Peter Block's "The Answer to How is Yes". It's a very effective answer to pragmatic philosophy, upholding the value of meaning in life. He explicitly addresses the "outsider" theme brought out in Colin Wilson's "The Outsiders", which explored the idea but didn't go anywhere with it. This one is going places.
Monday, February 7th, 2005
10:10 pm
another great book
I'm now almost through with _Democracy Matters_ by Cornel West. This guy is a professor of religion at Yale, having left Harvard in disgust with the president of that institution (who is now being attacked for dissing women scientists). Talk about erudite--he's putting all these great figures in American literature into a much more interesting, involving context than I ever got in college. Melville, Emerson, Baldwin, Morrison, I want to go back and read them all. But when will I have TIME?????
Had a great time at lunch yesterday with sabio and ninja princess--they make a very nice couple with their common interests in animals and theater. A very fancy Mexican restaurant on Broadway with a Sunday brunch of interesting Mexican variations on french toast, omelettes, and various Tex-Mex dishes. I had a very eggy chile relleno, while sabio had a burrito in mole sauce. Yum!
Things are heating up at Friends Meeting--my various committees are all requiring more time and effort than I can give so I'm really having to juggle, and am not getting enough sleep. What else is new?
My Calif. family very generously offered to pay for our trip to Phila for Dad Betz's funeral: over $2600! R and I were just blown away by their kindness. More later, maybe.
Cheerio! J.
Friday, January 7th, 2005
6:57 pm
a change of focus?
It's been waaaay too long since I posted anything, so I'm going to try a different focus to see whether it will motivate me to post more often. Essentially I plan to post what I'm reading, my reactions, and any applications I can see making of whatever I learn.
For example, right now I'm reading "Living for Change: an Autobiography" by Grace Lee Boggs, published in 1998. She's not very well known outside of Detroit but her and her husband's writing was very important to me in my early political development. The primary book I read was "Revolution and Evolution" ; the blurb on her site summarizes it well: "Examines the principal revolutions of this century, pointing out how each contributed to the advancement of Humankind. Shows that revolutions are not just to correct past injustices but to advance the evolution of Man/Womankind . Explores the perspectives for an American Revolution, emphasizing that the
United States is a unique phenomenon in human development."
From her autobiography I'm learning just how important she was to the social movements in which I have participated from 1968 until this very day. The fact that she earned a PhD in Philosophy and was able to apply her knowledge to the everyday struggles of some of the poorest people in this country inspires me no end--this means that my academic studies were not worthless speculation or a waste of time in any sense. That is, as long as I follow in her footsteps to continuously struggle with ideas as well as conduct, of myself as well as others. Is that enough of a head trip for today? Let me know what you think.

Meanwhile some depressing family news: both my mother and my father-in-law are sliding toward the ends of their lives. Mom is losing her short-term memory but more importantly her energy level, which inspired me to action for so many years, has dropped to almost nothing--she hardly leaves the house at all! In contrast, my 93-year-old father in law has been so energetic that he undertook a solo road trip from his home near Philadelphia, intending to visit New Orleans, which he had never seen. Unfortunately, just before reaching one of his daughters in Georgia, he ran into a tree in South Carolina. He suffered eight broken ribs and a broken jaw, but a firefighter was right behind him and got him out of the car and into a hospital, from which he was sent by helicopter to the major trauma center in Columbia. He's still there, more than a week later. All but one of his seven children have visited, including my wife. He's been recovering slowly but he's got cancer and may have to go on kidney dialysis, which might kill him. Well, we know that both of them would not want us to dwell on their condition but concentrate on our efforts to create a better world, so I will. But I'll miss them both terribly when they go.
Saturday, September 25th, 2004
1:03 pm
Hello, and time for another long-delayed update.
As usual, on a personal level all is well, but my country is going to Hell. [This is the first time I've tried to post a hyperlink; let's see how well it works.]
I'm trying really hard to live up to my Dean's expectations that I'll really lead the Master in Teaching instruction program by coordinating instructors at every site, which means responding in emergencies when the program people have let us know their requirements too late to get anyone else to teach. That's why I'm posting from work right now, rather than home.
But working with future teachers is quite inspiring, in its own way. These are folks who really want to do good, even if the system is set up for failure. That's why there's such a high dropout rate among new teachers.
We had a fabulous time camping out at Grayland Beach State Park, in the sand dunes of coastal Washington. Now if I could only get my digital camera to talk with my computer, I could post the pictures.
Anyway, hope you are well, too.
Monday, June 14th, 2004
10:18 pm
Just say "Yes!" to Yesler Terrace
Pardon me for feeling just a bit smug but after last Thursday evening I feel GREAT! I've been involved for several months with the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice's housing project, which hopes to put a stop to the gentrification of public housing in Seattle. After considerable research and preparation, including a door-to-door canvass on Saturday 6/5, the coalition that CCEJ sparked held a major public awareness presentation which drew more than twice as many people as we'd hoped for. And for once the news media are paying attention, even though there's no blood to be shown. I'm grateful to CCEJ, especially the director, Yalonda Sinde, for completely canceling my cynicism while staying very down-to-earth. Not to mention accepting me in a much more activist role than I would have been able to play in the 1970s, when African American activists wanted nothing to do with white do-gooders. Yes, Yes, Yes!!!
Meanwhile I've finished my first course in HTML writing--I'm starting to grasp what CSS means.
Cheerio! Love, J.
Friday, May 28th, 2004
10:02 am
Another long-delayed update
Hmmm, guess I've neglected my good readers for much too long again.
But please give credit to the new Seattle Public Library for getting me back here. First, at the special librarian's open house at SPL this past Monday I ran into an old family friend who knew more about a family member's life than I did, because that person posts regularly to livejournal. Then, on LIS.com [a library-related news service] I read a disparaging review of the new building, and agreed with it. The old friend said that she'd noticed that the older people she knew who had been posting to Livejournal tended to give it up after awhile, while the younger ones tend to keep posting. I don't read that many postings, so haven't noticed the trend. Anyway, here are some updates.
I've continued to commute by bike/bus combination, so am still in pretty good shape physically. My employer's human resources department held a weight loss contest and I came in second, having lost six pounds in six weeks on just my usual routine! All I did was cut out snacking at work; unfortunately I'm off the wagon again, though. There's a Trader Joe's store across the street from the office, and I just can't resist those cashews! I have noticed a connection between reading disturbing news and eating nuts. So, is the solution blissful ignorance? I don't think so ....
I'm preparing once again to go to a huge ALA conference, this time in Orlando. Who would have thought that Alaska Airlines would fly directly there--the only nonstop from Seattle? Just another instance of my fabled good fortune.
I'm also preparing for the NW Folklife Festival which starts tonight. Our singalong group, the Greenwood Family Sing, will conduct a "workshop" tomorrow at 3 pm (Intiman Theater Courtyard, if you're going). I compiled the song sheets and included one of my own compositions: an account of how Folklife volunteers prevented the city from imposing admission fees on the festival in 1996, set to the tune of "Marching Through Georgia". The chorus: "Hurrah, Hurrah, we never charge a fee/ Hurrah, Hurrah, we do it all for free/ The volunteer musicians will play for you and me/ We all are singing at Folklife." We'll have a great time, I'm sure.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2003
9:20 pm
Eight months later ... Alaska!
It's been that long since I posted? Yes, and a lot has happened.
For many years I've wanted to visit Alaska, partly to see the charismatic megafauna (Bears, Caribou, Moose, etc.) but also to see whether it might offer any kind of escape from the mainline consumerism that dogs my every thought here with endless temptations of bodily comfort and mental escape. This particular journal was occasioned by my and my spouse's thirtieth wedding anniversary--we have tried to take a major trip together every five years or so to make up for our lack of real "honeymoon" at the time of our wedding. Little did I know how easy it would be to fulfill the first purpose and how difficult it would be to escape the temptations of civilization.
Cold as it may be, Alaska is richly gifted with wildlife. Of course wildlife is everywhere, but it's somehow larger and easier to find there than at home. With major tourist industries based on wildlife viewing and literally thousands of eager helpers among drivers, guides, and fellow passengers, I should have expected the ease I found in viewing many fine birds and mammals, large and small. I also should have expected that that same tourism industry would lure us into its niches with special financial deals, which the bargain-hunter in me was unable to resist. So, after a week of happy house-sitting in Homer, we trucked off to Seward to view the icefalls from Northwest Glacier from the deck of a small cruise ship about the size of a PT-boat [held only 20 people]. Since our expectations weren't too high, we were quite pleased to learn quite a bit about glaciers and how fast they're melting back--literally before our eyes! We not only got to see a pod of resident [fish-eating] orcas but also some Dall's porpoise, which look just like miniature orcas, right down to the black color and white saddle patch, AND some transient [sea mammal-eaing] orcas, which look distinctly different from the fish eaters we know: shorter, stockier dorsal fins and much less social. Somehow, even in the midst of sardine-tourist hell, we felt blessed by Denali's glorious shining face and were able to satisfy my spouse's life-long desire to eat blueberries on the tundra, where the bushes grow to a grand height of three inches tall! We even encountered an artist whom we'd previously befriended, who regaled us with accounts of sleeping in his car for fear of marauding bears.
But now it's back to the mundane Lower 48, where I don't yet have to wear long underwear 24/7. We'll be talking about this trip for months, just as we did after Hawaii five years ago.
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003
9:54 pm
Off to Philadelphia
After months of preparation, I'm almost ready to travel to Philadelphia for the American Library Association's Midwinter conference. This is where the final planning for the even larger Annual Conference will take place, and I have a small part (actually a couple of parts) in it. Wouldn't you know, my boss called upon me to spend the entire day interviewing candidates for the technician position which is supposed to fill in when I can't be at my post, mostly evenings and weekends. OK, so I put aside all my last-minute preparations, and interviewed five people. Two were eliminated for personality faults, one was less technically-qualified than we wanted and two were acceptable. And then, after she and the technical services department head helped me with the winnowing, my boss hands the final decision to me. I have to call the references and make the decision! Aaargh! I hate having this responsibility. But I'm the one who will have to live with the person (so to speak), so I'll do it tomorrow. Then.... off to Philadelphia!
Saturday, January 4th, 2003
11:20 pm
Happy New Year!
Only three more days 'til my next class starts--I can hardly wait! I've completely re-done the syllabus for Environmental Psychology, ABS301, a required course for City University's undergraduate program in Psychology. The program director approved my revisions, which emphasize students learning how to identify with the whole earth, not just humanity. It'll be hard to wake up those who've never even met a real environmentalist, but I think I'm up to it. Meanwhile, I gotta come up with some more exercises to make the whole thing fun.
Also fun was the New Year's peace march in Ballard. Those Scandinavian phrases "ya sure, ya betcha!" and "uff da!" fitted right into some of the more traditional chants for a real "down home" sound. And there were over 500 people in the pouring rain! No one except a few drivers was around to watch, but the police cooperated nicely and there were no incidents to speak of. My esteemed spouse and I just went to a very happy contra dance where several people (all men for some reason) were wearing peace buttons as they danced. Most encouraging, if not at all unexpected.
Thursday, December 12th, 2002
9:28 pm
Peace Lights
I've spent the last couple of evenings trying to invent a way to format our Christmas lights in the shape of a "peace symbol" (you know, the old Nuclear Disarmament semaphore combination). I thought it would be easy if I could just find a suitable hoop shape. I tried the local Fred Meyer to see whether they had wreath-making material, and also considered using old bicycle wheels and, at the suggestion of a friend at work, a plastic garbage can lid. Finally, as I wandered Fred's toy department, it came to me-- "Hula Hoops"! Unfortunately FM didn't have any, but Top Ten Toys, an excellent creative toy store on the next block, had a great selection, so I got two. Now, the question is, how to frame the interior parts? Having attached a string of lights to the exterior hoop with "duck" tape, I tried stretching some tape across the diameter of the hoop, but it looks too flimsy for outdoor use. I'm too tired to try anything else right now, but should be able to come up with something by Saturday. Maybe we'll have colored peace symbols lighting up our porch by the weekend!
Monday, December 2nd, 2002
10:39 pm
Post Thanksgiving Update
Hello, it's been awhile since I wrote anything so here goes.
Lots has happened--mostly connected with peace activism. My life partner is an expert trainer of nonviolent activists; she and a collaborator are running the Advanced Peacekeeper training in Seattle yesterday and next Sunday. I thought I'd better brush up on my skills since my only formal training was 33 years ago. So it was an excellent brush-up, bringing back a lot of the feelings of personal power in the face of overwhelming social power--I once again felt that I could personally have an effect on society, and not just by witnessing. I also discovered how much those weekly five-minute RC sessions have meant to my sense of emotional clearness. Even though I can only touch on a couple of my old "buttons", doing so clears me to deal with other, less deep issues, so it's most worthwhile.
Attended a "focus group" meeting at work today; management was trying to head off employee discontent by finding out just exactly what bothers people. As I suspected, I work in one of the more sane (by FAR) corners of the organization--my boss really knows how to manage people very well. I will probably not be moving on for quite awhile. [famous last words???]
Friday, October 25th, 2002
12:00 am
teaching lots!
I've been teaching a lot this week--those tricky students were pretty receptive this time. It's fun to try to make information literacy appealing by showing them searches that may apply to their own assignments or by singing a funny song (the Infamous Other Man Who Never Returned) and turning the episode into an information hunt. But as I got more tired, I lost so much energy that I couldn't stay focused and ended without enough review or a snappy punch line. Still, they all said "Thank you" at the end. I'll do better next week.
Sunday, October 20th, 2002
3:44 pm
Hello, this is Jake Ben Zebra of Seattle, Washington. I was introduced to LiveJournal by a family member and found it an intriguing concept. I've been a Quaker (member of the Religious Society of Friends) my whole adult life (more than 30 years), so a lot of what I say will reflect that outlook and experience. Things are going very well for me right now, but as usual I've taken on more work than I can reasonably accomplish--just trying to save the whole world, you know! Love, J.
About LiveJournal.com