Cahokia

Salvador, Brazil: Just got a forwarded email from friends newly arrived in Brazil. One of them is there on a Fullbright scholarship. Dorothea and I had been thinking that their presence would make for a good excuse for visiting Brazil. But, when they stopped here briefly a few weeks ago on their way to the airport, we became discouraged. Their description of Salvador as a large (3 million) city that was a former slave trading hub, reminded us both too much of Saint Thomas, the US Virgin Islands. Been there, done that.
I am back at the UML. I have three books on it, so I must be interested. I have started reading the chapter on distributed databases in the textbook from last semester’s database class. I am signed up for the distributed database class, which meets for 7 Saturdays spring semester. That class description say that Java experience is
Also, just been Googling “Cahokia.” Seems to me that when I visited the site in the early 90s, there was, at the Interprative center, an explanation of the “stockade.” It went something like this: around 1250, the time of the “Little Ice Age,” there was constructed around the central parts of the city a stockade. The argument was that the elites were trying to defend themselves from a popular revolt. I could find that intrepretation again today, but will keep looking.

myspace, peak oil, Thomas girlfriend, darwin fundamentalist

Sitting in Tomas’ black leather chair in the attic “penthouse.” Just got finished reading the newest post to dragonfly by a woman named Kristen. I am struggling to remember her, though, oddly, the picture of her and Thomas is taken in front of our house in Little Falls. Her reference to her grandfather from Philadelphia rings a bell, though vaguely.
Rambling off on a tangent–that house had a lot going for it. There was the stone chimney. (Though there is a fireplace, it was brick, not stone.) The window over her left shoulder is where we’d view the funeral home across the street while sitting that the breakfast table in the kitchen.
The tree that they are standing by, an ash, I believe, and three beautiful pines and the lilac hedge were all cut down by the people that bought the house from us.
Looks like spring. The tulips are just coming up, and the window flower boxes aren’t out yet. Not sure which year. We were there from 1994 to 1998.
I was just thinking about that–parallels–in this case with my parents. Their first house was for about four years in the early 1950s. Then they moved to North Broad Street, where I lived, infancy to age 14. They were there for almost twenty years. The pictured house of ours in Little Falls would then be equivalent to their first, and where we live now equivalent to Broad Street. We are in year eight.
Madeline asked me yesterday about getting a myspace.com account. She apparently has several friends that have such accounts. I looked at some of those sites over her shoulder as she was showing them to me. I was appalled. Pretty sleazy pictures. She didn’t see the problem. Later, I sat down and looked through myspace.com’s documentation, and they make clear that they don’t want anyone under 14 joining.
Madeline just came up a few minutes ago, saying that she had waited long enough, and that she was going to go ahead and create an account. Not so fast, I said. Boy was she mad. We’ll see how this goes. Not well, I am expecting.
Also just got done reading a bit about “peak oil” posted on deepblade. On the one hand, I feel like I have already lived through many such catastrophes. On the other, I am such that thing will get much worse. If fact, that is a fear–if I am having trouble dealing now, how about when things get much worse, as they surely will?
The following extended entry section is the interview with Daniel Bennett from last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. I feel like I have to be able to hold both his

Certainly the idea of a God that can answer prayers and whom you can talk to, and who intervenes in the world–that’s a hopeless idea. There is no such thing.

Continue reading myspace, peak oil, Thomas girlfriend, darwin fundamentalist

Memorial Letter from Kirsten Saylor

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Memorial for Thomas Hansmeyer
I met Tomas in Agroecology at the University of Minnesota, winter term (uggh, back in the nineties). It was a bizarre and difficult winter when we got inches of rains on top of packed snow and then it would all flash freeze in –20 degree weather. I remember one of those mornings when I spent hours trying to unstuck my car wheels from the ice and then managed to crawl through the hatchback door to get to school, to Agroecology. Not many folks arrived that morning at class, but he was there. And conspicuously the only one who wasn’t ranting and raving about how badly their car froze and the hell it was to get it unstuck. So I ribbed him – gave him a hard time about being a graduate student with a house and a garage. I remember his mischievous grin. He wasn’t defensive, but understood that I was just hazing him. That grin sold me and I knew I wanted to get to know him better.
Tomas and I started dating shortly thereafter. While Thomas and I were never destined to stay together, I think our friendship came at a good time for both us. We were both trying to get over bad break-ups and we saw someone who could understand us, someone we could be good to and someone who would be good to us. He helped me find an emotional strength that I had never known before. He’s the first one that helped me get over my fears and to love, work hard and still lose love, and know that in the end I would survive. Shit, I didn’t get the chance to tell him that and share that with him. For that gift, he has and will always have a special place in my heart. I really wanted to tell him…
And for my grandfather. I can’t describe the alienation my grandfather felt upon moving from Philadelphia to Minneapolis. But with Tomas, I think my grandfather felt he had someone he could relate to. It was a fun joke between us – Tomas always said he could relate to seniors – but Tomas went beyond that. Whenever my grandfather called him to help him with a project, Tomas was there – even long after we had split up and I had moved away. My parents extend their deepest sympathies and regrets to Tomas’ partner, family and friends. His friendship with my grandfather touched my family deeply.
While we dated, I went to Tomas’ farm by St. Cloud nearly every weekend. It was during this time, that Tomas was finishing roofing the big old barn. I can still see him up on top of the barn, waving his long gangly arms hello sitting astride the roof apex. Imagine: A huge barn (looked three stories tall or more!) sitting on a hot tin roof in the middle of summer in full sun. I was always shouting after him to drink more water and wear sunscreen!
Tomas taught me how to dumpster dive, make chocolate chips cookies with garlic (yum!), make a quick health assessment of the health of the soil, some car repair tips and the value of place. Just letting yourself be where you are at any particular moment.
I swear there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do. Not only was he good with his head and his hands, but he held storming-good fall parties at his farm house. He was generous with his time and his possessions – he taught me to let go and live. I thought I had already done that, but with him, I realized that I still had a ways to go!
But in all of these accolades, I’m not striking at the heart of what I want to share about Tomas. Our break-up was not a pretty thing, but I resolved not to let it end with us hating each other. I pestered him until he agreed to meet and talk it over. Over the several weeks we worked it out – the misperceptions, the hurt feelings, the fears we didn’t dare speak earlier. He had an emotional strength that one sees so rarely – an ability to move beyond the petty self and find a higher place to co-exist with someone. I wanted us to remain friends – I wanted to remain in that presence. That was a bit naïve, I know now…we were too unalike. But I just didn’t want us to not be angry with each other anymore and to forgive each other as well as ourselves. I think we accomplished this. While we did talk periodically, we no longer hung out and eventually the emails became fewer and fewer as our paths separated.
It was several years ago when I last heard from Tomas. I was living in Oregon and he had mentioned that he was going to a retreat center on the West Coast. There was something about this that I still can’t put my finger on, but it makes me smile.
It’s October 18, 2005 and it still hasn’t hit me that Tomas is no longer… knowing that he was in the world made me feel, well, more comfortable, safer, more at ease.
I am struggling to end this memorial. There is no good ending. There is no finishing touch to this young man’s life. There were supposed to be more paragraphs, more reflections…more. So, to his family and friends I wish to add my memorial. My family and I wish we had learned of his death in order to attend the funeral – to extend our sympathies, our condolences and to let you know in person that he is not a person we let easily go.
Kirsten Saylor, Vibeke Saylor and Thomas Saylor
4114 39th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Cherokee Louise

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“Cherokee Louise” by Joni Mitchell is what I am listing to via Musicmatch Jukebox–pre-iTunes software. I was inspired to first it up and put it on shuffle after reading Paul’s comment about the “Lift Every Voice.” What a disturbing song, though. Now onto Beethoven Ninth Symphony Scherzo. Not quite the flavor of his mix.I looked in the Sacred Harp, and didn’t find “Lift Every Voice.” I though it would be there, think that it should be there. Twas great to hear from Paul.
This morning I am sitting in the “Penthouse”–our remodeled attic, instead of in a coffee shop somewhere. Dorothea is teaching clinicals for CNA students at a nursing home and was out of here at 6:30. I decided to hang around so that Liam wouldn’t be alone, though he is still asleep now.
Just sort of putzing, floating from one thing to the next. First order of business was to check my comcast email account, which I do probably once a week or so. I was expecting to see a bunch of emails from comments posted to the blog, and sure enough there they were–the spam. (As well as the email from Paul.) First try to run the cgi-bin program mt-close.cgi, which closes comments so that they can’t get spammed, confused me because it brought up the blog editing logon screen. Thought that something was wrong. But I just tried it again now and logged in, and viola, there was the mt-close page. Made sense–I needed to logon first.
Also in my aimless wanderings just clicked on the moon picture in the blog, which I hadn’t done for awhile apparently, or had forgotten about, because that took me to space.com, which was all right.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

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J. Rosamond Johnson wrote the music for Lift Every Voice.
Photo: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
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James Weldon Johnson referred to his song as the “Negro National Hymn.”
Photo: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
So, the white, middleclass Saint Paul Unitarians scored a point on Sunday. They played “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” We used to sing that in All Saints Catherdal School, in the church build in 1850 of stones used as ballast in slave ships in Saint Thomas, USVI. Lorna, the music teacher, playing the organ from the balcony, and a church full of students, descendants of slaves, belting it out. I had forgotten the name of the song, and don’t think that I have heard it since.
At the end of the service, I went through the line, was at the end of the line actually, and told the ministers about this, and how the kids in the Virgin Islands called it the “black national anthem.” The female minister replied “that’s because it is the black national anthem.”
And, I saw a coyote today. I was driving back from somewhere on the backside of the old Towne and Country Country Club. At first, I thought it was a dog, then I thought, wait, no it looks more like a wolf. But it couldn’t have been a wolf. Maybe a coyote? I turned around and came back to confirm. “It” was still standing there. A coyote.
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Essential Minnesota

Liam Fourth Grade Art
Liam’s Essential Minnesota

Scanned this art project of Liam’s. It is actually a piece of wood. It is displayed here with his permission. How does he see the world? How does he see the state? How can he express what he sees of the world, the state, the state of the world?
I went to my first appointment with Dr. Hruby, the osteopath. I was referred to him by my sister-inlaw, who is a costume designer for dancers, many who see this doctor. I have had to wait for over a year to get in for an appointment. Most of the visit was spent with me lying on my back and he having his hands pressed in under my back. It felt like a deep, slow-motion massage. I am beginning to realize now that I am quite tired, perhaps from that.

Last Day of Vacation–Back to School, Work

Drawing Madeline made for me for Christmas
Madeline’s Family Portrait

The other night, Dorothea and I ended up watching a segment on C-SPAN concerning amputee American soldiers being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The soldiers interviewed were articulate and certain that the U.S. is doing the right thing. The show had credibility being on C-SPAN. Poignant seems to be the word.
And several other things that we have watched are the DVD The Ice Storm and a bit of the TV movie Vertical Limit. On top of which, there was an Andy Warhol exhibit of car wrecks at the Walker when I was there the other day. And the weather has been icy here. So thoughts of “ordinary tragedies” have been on my mind—a car wreck here will mess you up just as surely as a car bomb over there. Anyway, feeling vulnerable.
Father Injured By Hockey Puck Declared Brain Dead.” He was hit with a puck just below the ear during a hockey game, an injury quite similar to that of Thomas, and circumstances seem similar too, in that I’d guess he was having a good time, doing something that he loved when it happened. Can well imagine the whole hospital thing, the brain death certification, the organ donation bureaucracy. Rare, but quite similar.
Also led me to think of the news coverage. I didn’t find any news report of Thoms’ death. Perhaps that is a good thing. I just Googled his name—mostly came up with emails about humus. Then, I got distracted and Googled “David Schons.” Got: bicycle racing; furniture refinishing; Least Cost Optimization for the Petfood Industry—an article; Rabbit Dictionary for use on Palm OS; Golf In Luxembourg; 2005 Heart of the Beast Mayday Parade; a reference to the dragonfly blog.
The other day when I was writing about my trip to the Walker I noted that I had invested a considerable amount of time in editing. Well, I invested a bit more when I also got around to checking for XHTML compatibility. I failed on things like the Google link to the Star Tribune’s article about the Walker, and on MT Blogroll. Other people’s code. Don’t know what to do about that.
Mary and Colleen stopped by. They are on their way to Brazil for a year where Colleen will be doing ethnomusicology research on a Fullbright scholarship. The city where they will be was a prime slave-trading port, so I can’t help but think of St. Thomas, where I did my first year of teaching in the early 1990s—it was also a major slave-trading port. Very African.