Is The IBM PC/XT Doomed To Be Technology’s Next Dinosaur? A 1987 Article

As I read through the Steve Jobs biography I was reminded of an article that I wrote in 1987 for one of my journalism classes. Several years into my own micro-computer adventures I was intrigued by IBM’s hard-right-turn, having captured the small computer market, to try to make it completely proprietary with it’s proposed OS/2 operating system and PS/2 hardware. Besides reading scores of books and articles on recent micro-computer history, I interviewed several local micro-computer vendors. I love how they felt that multitasking systems, what OS/2 was supposed to do, would be too complicated and just not necessary. At the end of the article I’ve posted a video from this era, from the Computer Chronicles TV show. Enjoy

Is The IBM PC/XT Doomed To Be Technology’s Next Dinosaur?

by Joe Bustillos – November 17, 1987 – CSUF COMM201 – Feature Article #2

On April 2, 1987 IBM (International Business Machines) introduced a new line of microcomputers and an operating system for their micros that will be incompatible with the original IBM Personal Computer and its operating system (MSDOS). An operating system is an essential program that makes up the “brains” and “personality” of a computer. It enables the computer to “talk” to its disk drives and its screen and it’s what the computer user “talks to” when he types on the keyboard (and you thought nobody was listening). If two computers from two manufacturers, for example AT&T and Compaq, are running the same operating system (MSDOS) chances are pretty good that a word-processing program that works on one computer will work on the other computer.

Continue Reading

Following the Logic of Feelings

Some of my thinking lately has reminded me of this article that I wrote in the late 1980s about rediscovering the power and need to be emotionally alive. This article was part of a column that I wrote called “The Editor’s Wild Hair” for a little print newsletter that I inflicted upon friends and family called, “Air, Dirt & Ink.” [Sigh], the good ol’ days.

Journal Classic: Following the Logic of Feelings

Heart, why are you pounding like a hammer?
Heart, why are you beating like a drum?
Heart, why do you make such a commotion
when I’m waiting for my baby to come?
Oh heart, don’t do it if it’s not the real thing
Heart, I get so easily deceived
Heart, there is no other I can turn to
if not you, heart, then who can I believe?”
“Heart” by Nick Lowe

I vividly remember when it first happened. It was in the seventh grade when I walked up to Mary Hinck and said, “Hi,” and she said rather unfeelingly, “Oh, it’s you.” It’s like I didn’t even really know that it was there until it came crashing to the ground in front of God and everyone. Jesus, I thought, if this is what love feels like, I don’t want any part of it.

I didn’t mean that, of course, and have spent the intervening 17 years demonstrating it to no one in particular. But something very definitely changed after that first brush with emotional death.

photobooth-iowans by Towle N

photobooth-iowans by Towle N

Back at home, though I never once for a moment doubted my parent’s love for me or my siblings; emotions, especially anger, seemed to be like Steven Spielbergian pyrotechnics. Like the much-feared nuclear holocaust, there would be a blinding flash of emotional light: my father would explode over some such reality of living with five children. My mother would then deploy her tactical arsenal. Another flash, then children running in every direction, vainly hoping to avoid becoming part of the scorched landscape. Then just as quickly as it had begun, it would be over. Father would be about his business and mother would continue hers. It all seemed to my childish mind to be quite unnecessary.
So it only seems right that at one point in my life I hung around with a religious group that held to the philosophy that “feelings” could not be trusted. “Feelings, they come and go, but objective truth, now there’s the ticket.” Of course the objective truth that was being referred to here was the Bible, the Scoffield Reference Bible in the King James Version to be more specific. And Love, well that had something to do with some Greek word and God and Jesus dying and . . . (all of which of course made no sense whatsoever to my teenage mind, but who was I to scoff at the insights of my elders?).

I don’t know why I always seem to use this column to take pot‑shots at Evangelical Christianity (no doubt an unconscious attempt to pay them back for the emotional trauma and near fatal brain damage I experienced while getting my Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies). In fact, before this starts sounding too much like “Sex and the Single Brain Cell,” I have to question the wisdom of attempting an article that would argue following the logic of emotions. I mean, either you understand it or you don’t.

I guess it’s just one of those things that pisses me off. While I was playing my little religious game, going to seminary and all, reading Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, thinking about Pluralism and other “important issues,” my own wife was suffering from emotional deprivation. Perhaps this isn’t unusual for couples where one of the partners is working full‑time while carrying 12 units of graduate school course work. It’s called, “I love you, but I don’t have any time for you”—a rather mixed message.

Quite inevitably she announced to me one day at lunch, rather unceremoniously, “You know, if you were just my boyfriend or if we were just living together, I’d leave you.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to look up from the book that I was reading. I knew it wouldn’t be a pretty picture. This was not at all what I was expecting.

So off to counseling we went. A well-meaning Christian friend told me about the horrendous percentage of couples who go to counseling and end up divorced. I think she was trying to caution me against the practice. Of course she failed to mention that no one goes to counseling because things are going great. Someone in the relationship has just about had it (a la, “if you were just my boyfriend . . .”) and it’s either this or the door. No doubt the percentage would be even greater had they not at least tried counseling. Still, it didn’t sound very promising.

Once a week we’d arrive at the counselor’s office. She’d outline the gripes of the week and I’d patiently listen, mentally preparing my counter‑arguments. Then the counselor would turn to me and say, “So Joe, how do you feel about what she has said?”

“Well . . . .” Feel? Did he say “feel”? Most of the time I’d say something about the supposed logic behind my actions and nothing about my feelings. This went on for months. Then one day it dawned on me. It happened while she was complaining about her needing to use the new  Nissan sedan, which had an air‑conditioner, ’cause she had to wear nice clothes to work while me and my Levi’s could put up with the un‑air‑conditioned Toyota pickup. When it came time for my little meaningless counter‑argument I let it out. “You know,” I said rather matter of factly, “if she was convinced of my love for her or that she was number one in my life, than none of this other shit would even matter.” Opps. Did I say that? They both stared at me like one does when a toddler unexpectedly makes an adult‑like observation.

“So Joe, how do you feel about her then?” It took another five months before I could clearly say how I felt. In view of the fact that I write a column called “Sex and the Single Brain Cell,” it should be obvious that we were to become another statistic.

“Oh heart, there must be no mistake
Beware, special care, from the start
Oh heart, though I’m glad for the first bit of love to have
Be certain now, else you’re gonna break
Oh heart, motor of emotion you’ve never been like this before
Heart, at first I thought you were joking,
but I know deep down in you that you’re sure.”
“Heart” by Nick Lowe

I realize that the above narrative is a rather odd way to set up an argument in favor of following the logic of feelings. Those who consider the concept to be little more than a dangerous dose of pop psychology will no doubt feel justified. But, like I wrote before, unless you understand the concept you’ll have little appreciation for my argument (which is really no argument at all).

The reason for my sensitivity about this subject is no doubt the result of my own struggle with the concept of “feeling,” starting with the amazingly disarming question: “what the fuck do I want out of life?” Laid out like a raw nerve, the question began to unravel the reasons why, two years ago, I would have recoiled at the idea of following feeling’s leading.

Simply put, an anemic sense of self worth prevented me from thinking that I was an adequate judge for determining the meaning or direction of my own life. “What the fuck do I want out of life?” It’s just a simple question. But there was a silent yet pervasive lack of self‑trust, which perhaps extended personally and culturally to a time when authority figures were depended upon for making the decisions of life. And feelings were the luxuries of irresponsible youth and melancholic old age.

“She said, ‘you know, if you were just my boyfriend or if we were just living together, I’d leave you.’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to look up from the book that I was reading.”

Just below the surface was an ancient belief that if I were left to my own devices, judging things on the basis of what I “want,” I’d no doubt do damage to myself and evil to my brothers and sisters. This was somewhat based on a twisted application of King David’s repentant song and Solomon’s words of advice:

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me, mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.” (Psalm 22:6,7) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Not long after the news of my marital separation broke, my well-meaning father strongly suggested that if I turned this dilemma over to Jesus than all of the fuzziness would clear up and I’d make the right decision. Perhaps. But equally possible was the proposition that I got into this situation because over the course of the last 14 years I’d “turned over” such situations to the Lord, in my own feeble way, and failed to read the writing on my own heart. Ha. How was God going to talk to me anyway except through my own heart?

A child no doubt lacks the common sense and self‑discipline to negotiate the troubled waters of life without parental instruction and example but I have, for a long time, ceased being a child. And when I turned to the judgment bench of feelings I didn’t find a power hungry madman bent on my own destruction or the lording over of the lives of my loved ones. Quite surprisingly I found a mirror image of myself, perhaps a little more insightful, perhaps a little more excitable, somewhat like a profile of ones self that until this very moment one has failed to even notice.

I took feeling’s leading and made some difficult decisions. Perhaps out an inability to read feeling’s messages or like myself, out of a lack of trust, many fake their way from sun‑up to the evening news thinking that this vague sense of dissatisfaction is all part of life. Life’s a bitch and then you die. Right?

Someone once told me that there was more to it than that. Risking the possible dissolution of our marriage, she courageously challenged me to confess what I already knew about my feelings. Among other things, this difficult experience has shown me that feelings, whether acknowledged or ignored, have a way of making themselves known.

Sources:
Following the Logic of Feelings (“The Editor’s Wild Hair” column)  by Joe Bustillos. Air, Dirt & Ink (ADI), Vol 1, Issue 4, January‑February 1988)

image: photobooth iowans by 3Neus. http://www.flickr.com/photos/motherscratcher/2267589346/ retrieved on 2/3/2010

cover image: La Estrella esperaba, pero nadie llego by Mercedes.. Life as I picture. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mercedesdayanara/366501299/ retrieved on 2/3/2010

Will Buying Heal Old Scars

One of my students commented in his blog that he’d just had a relaxing weekend, noting that he’d actually had time to do some yard work with his wife and how much better the experience was versus the typical weekend of continuous running around. Interesting. As I continue my own house-hunting adventure I wonder how this change from life-long renter to first-time buyer will change my own disposition towards a “relaxing weekend doing yard work.” In a Pepperdine assignment on mentoring for my Masters degree I’ve already gone on record writing that I’ve already done my time doing yard work as a child and adolescent. Maybe that’ll change. maybe not. Here’s the Pepperdine essay:

Mentoring Analysis – The Benefit of Learning By Example

1970s - dad up a ladder on balcony above garage.

1970s – dad up a ladder on balcony above garage.

I can’t believe how my brother betrayed me. There he was, just rambling on, completely oblivious to the betrayal. I can’t believe he’d forgotten the vows we’d made during those numberless sweaty Saturdays out in the backyard under the heartless afternoon sun as our father rained down on us pruned branches to be cut and dissatisfaction at our efforts.

I thought that it was understood that once we’d successfully escaped our father’s unsatisfiable tutelage that we’d never ever again spend another day toiling under the sun, pruning trees, or doing anything beyond the minimum necessary to keep the lawn from over-growing and swallowing up the patio furniture. But there he was proudly displaying his garden and the huge ears of corn he was expecting in a few weeks. Damn. I guess new homeownership does that to a person.

Okay, so not everyone takes the vows of teenage-boys seriously (brother!), and it wasn’t exactly the “Grapes of Wrath.” But it was negative enough to leave the above “not-so-fond” memory. Let’s just say, when I began to read Shea and recalled the nurturing/supportive characteristics we all agreed a mentor should have, my father silently slipped off the list . . . at first.

Based on Gordan Shea’s list of twenty characteristics about “What Mentors Do” (p.14) my father exhibited eight of the twenty characteristics (usually having to do with doing the job right, and his quotable quote was, “Can’t you guys do anything right?!,” so I wasn’t sure whether I should count that one). Of the twenty-two characteristics (see below) that we cooked up in Colorado his numbers dropped to just two. Actually, this whole business of going back and mining my memory for mentoring moments and/or relationships was getting pretty depressing for me. As I worked my way through my list there was an obvious pattern of learning from a distance so as not to get too close to whichever leader (and suffer from his/her potential wrath). It’s pretty clear where that pattern came from.

It was many years later in the middle of one of my child-development classes, when we were discussing the Characteristics of Play, that it suddenly dawned on me that my father’s endless weekends of yardwork was his form of leisure. It was his form of play. Of course, none of this had made sense to my brother and I as kids because this was anything but fun to us. But to my father the “work” meant a great deal to him and having us there to “share” it with him also meant a great deal (even though we were anything but receptive to any message at the time). And even odder still was that he worked in landscaping and spent his whole week doing pretty much the same things for a living. The only difference, on the surface, between his work-a-day world and what he did on the weekends he was working on his yard with his boys. But at the time we never saw it.

In one of last term’s readings Frank Smith made it clear that learning happens whether we want it to or not, more from the people we’re around than from the words of teachers.

“We learn from the people around us with whom we identify. We can’t help learning from them, and we learn without knowing that we are learning.” Frank Smith. The Book of Learning and Forgetting, 1998, p.3

So when I look at the person I’ve become and look at the long hours that I put in and the high expectation that I have for myself and the work that I do, I now know where those values came from. Those were values that were important to him, values that saw him through the early years of his own life when he didn’t have a father to lead him. And just as he never looked at the difficulties of his own up-bring for an apology for not having had a “perfect childhood,” I don’t expect or want an apology from him for the often vitriolic relationship that we had as father and son. I understand that he was just being a man, a man true to his core values and those values didn’t always translate well to squirrely seven- and ten-year-old boys.

MV-sunset

MV-sunset

Dear ol’ dad, whatever his conscious intentions may have been (prune trees, cut branches down small enough to fit into trash cans), he taught my brother and I a great deal more than the “joys” of working with small hand tools on mountains of orange and olive tree branches. I love him for instilling those values in me. But I’m still not going to pick up any pruning shears anytime soon. I’ll leave that to my silly younger brother. JBB (Spring 2002)

NOTES:
Colorado List of Mentor Characteristics:
trust
honesty
respect
clarity
non judgmental
guidance
empathy
dialogue
mutual benefit
sense of humor
compassion
availability
willingness to negotiate
personable
supportive
caring
intuitive
respectful
visionary
lead by example
interpersonal skills

Sources:
“Crisp : Mentoring , Third Edition : How to Develop Successful Mentor Behaviors – Crisp 50-Minute Book.” by Gordon F. Shea

“The Book of Learning and Forgetting” by Frank Smith

All images by Joe Bustillos

Will Buying Heal Old Scares

One of my students commented in his blog that he’d just had a relaxing weekend, noting that he’d actually had time to do some yard work with his wife and how much better the experience was versus the typical weekend of continuous running around. Interesting. As I continue my own house-hunting adventure I wonder how this change from life-long renter to first-time buyer will change my own disposition towards a “relaxing weekend doing yard work.” In a Pepperdine assignment on mentoring for my Masters degree I’ve already gone on record writing that I’ve already done my time doing yard work as a child and adolescent. Maybe that’ll change. maybe not. Here’s the Pepperdine essay:

Mentoring Analysis – The Benefit of Learning By Example

dad workin' on the house

dad workin

I can’t believe how my brother betrayed me. There he was, just rambling on, completely oblivious to the betrayal. I can’t believe he’d forgotten the vows we’d made during those numberless sweaty Saturdays out in the backyard under the heartless afternoon sun as our father rained down on us pruned branches to be cut and dissatisfaction at our efforts.

I thought that it was understood that once we’d successfully escaped our father’s unsatisfiable tutelage that we’d never ever again spend another day toiling under the sun, pruning trees, or doing anything beyond the minimum necessary to keep the lawn from over-growing and swallowing up the patio furniture. But there he was proudly displaying his garden and the huge ears of corn he was expecting in a few weeks. Damn. I guess new homeownership does that to a person.

Okay, so not everyone takes the vows of teenage-boys seriously (brother!), and it wasn’t exactly the “Grapes of Wrath.” But it was negative enough to leave the above “not-so-fond” memory. Let’s just say, when I began to read Shea and recalled the nurturing/supportive characteristics we all agreed a mentor should have, my father silently slipped off the list . . . at first.

Based on Gordan Shea’s list of twenty characteristics about “What Mentors Do” (p.14) my father exhibited eight of the twenty characteristics (usually having to do with doing the job right, and his quotable quote was, “Can’t you guys do anything right?!,” so I wasn’t sure whether I should count that one). Of the twenty-two characteristics (see below) that we cooked up in Colorado his numbers dropped to just two. Actually, this whole business of going back and mining my memory for mentoring moments and/or relationships was getting pretty depressing for me. As I worked my way through my list there was an obvious pattern of learning from a distance so as not to get too close to whichever leader (and suffer from his/her potential wrath). It’s pretty clear where that pattern came from.

It was many years later in the middle of one of my child-development classes, when we were discussing the Characteristics of Play, that it suddenly dawned on me that my father’s endless weekends of yardwork was his form of leisure. It was his form of play. Of course, none of this had made sense to my brother and I as kids because this was anything but fun to us. But to my father the “work” meant a great deal to him and having us there to “share” it with him also meant a great deal (even though we were anything but receptive to any message at the time). And even odder still was that he worked in landscaping and spent his whole week doing pretty much the same things for a living. The only difference, on the surface, between his work-a-day world and what he did on the weekends he was working on his yard with his boys. But at the time we never saw it.

In one of last term’s readings Frank Smith made it clear that learning happens whether we want it to or not, more from the people we’re around than from the words of teachers.

“We learn from the people around us with whom we identify. We can’t help learning from them, and we learn without knowing that we are learning.” Frank Smith. The Book of Learning and Forgetting, 1998, p.3

So when I look at the person I’ve become and look at the long hours that I put in and the high expectation that I have for myself and the work that I do, I now know where those values came from. Those were values that were important to him, values that saw him through the early years of his own life when he didn’t have a father to lead him. And just as he never looked at the difficulties of his own up-bring for an apology for not having had a “perfect childhood,” I don’t expect or want an apology from him for the often vitriolic relationship that we had as father and son. I understand that he was just being a man, a man true to his core values and those values didn’t always translate well to squirrely seven- and ten-year-old boys.

MV-sunsetDear ol’ dad, whatever his conscious intentions may have been (prune trees, cut branches down small enough to fit into trash cans), he taught my brother and I a great deal more than the “joys” of working with small hand tools on mountains of orange and olive tree branches. I love him for instilling those values in me. But I’m still not going to pick up any pruning shears anytime soon. I’ll leave that to my silly younger brother. JBB (Spring 2002)

NOTES:
Colorado List of Mentor Characteristics:
trust
honesty
respect
clarity
non judgmental
guidance
empathy
dialogue
mutual benefit
sense of humor
compassion
availability
willingness to negotiate
personable
supportive
caring
intuitive
respectful
visionary
lead by example
interpersonal skills

Sources:
“Crisp : Mentoring , Third Edition : How to Develop Successful Mentor Behaviors – Crisp 50-Minute Book.” by Gordon F. Shea

“The Book of Learning and Forgetting” by Frank Smith

All images by Joe Bustillos

Busy – My life as I knew it is over… and I feel fine

IMG_0045.JPGSo, what the hell have I been doing for the past four weeks? `Yeah, there was this little thing called Macworld and believe it or not I’ve been editing photos since then and playing catch up with my FS courses. Now I’m in LA to restart my Pepperdine EdD. My life as I knew it is over… and I feel fine.

The Road Back, Part 2


So I sent off my Request for Re-admittance email to Pepperdine yesterday afternoon and then went online to fill out the registration application and ran headlong into the essay part of the application. Ack. I’d completely forgotten about the essay and wasn’t so sure if I just wanted to re-use the one that I’d originally sent when I signed up four years ago. At first I couldn’t find the essay I’d written and when I did and read it I felt the gap between myself and the guy I was four years ago who knew nothing of the crushing pressures I had put myself through during the year and a half I had been in the program and slight death I experienced when I resolved to walk away from that dream. I took it as a good sign, though, that when I let the feelings wash across me I felt all the more determined to see this through.

2008 Version – Ed Tech Observations & My Goals Related to This Program:

Technology is expensive. Some would say too expensive. At a time when school districts are scrambling for funds to pay for books, cutting back on student services, and fighting to avoid any cutbacks that would touch on union contracts, one might be hard pressed to justify spending money on shiny new boxes. To me, the fact that we’re faced with this apparent either/or question indicates that this problem is much more than just an unfortunate fiscal shortfall. There are issues here that speak to the very purpose of our educational system.

At the very least the urgency of this ongoing “butter versus guns” question speaks to the cultural/social disconnects that one can find in the decision making process where these decisions are being made. For example, to the business world investing in a computer is just that, an investment to enable a worker to better communicate, to better facilitate getting the job done, and at the very least a business expense to write-off at the end of the year. It’s just part of doing business. In the elementary classroom, however, over twenty-years after Wozniak’s revolution, computers are still a dusty novelty sitting in a corner like a revered but untouched trophy meant to communicate our commitment to “technology and our children.” The computer is still something you do after you’ve finished your regular classroom assignments. And in this environment of “NCLB” there’s scan little time to do the curriculum, much less after-assignments “fun” activities.

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,


Continue Reading

The Road Back, Part 1

MyPicture_5 As I’ve previously twittered, I contacted Pepperdine last week to get the 411 on finishing my doctorate in Ed Tech. Awesome Student Services Director, Besenia, sent me the info. Step one: I needed to write a brief explanation behind my leave of absence and why I was looking to be readmitted. So last night I sat down with my little OLPC (the MacBook Pro was busy backing up and uploading the new blog software) and revisited where I was at about two years ago when I stepped away for my doctorate program. I shouldn’t have been too surprised at how quickly the emotions rolled back to me as I tried to recall the details of those times. The question then became what parts of the story to include and what parts to keep out.

Steely Dan - Citizen Steely Dan 1972-1980 - King of the World Music: King Of The World from the album “Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980 (Disc 2) [Box Set]” by Steely Dan

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,


Continue Reading

Another Writing Exercise from the Archive – Broken Back Basketball

bigchairbook More stuff stumbled upon during my prep to move my junk to Florida. As before this was another one called a Quick Draw Visualization Exercise. The instructions and story was written the day after the first one posted, over 12-years-ago, on March 6th, 1996… It should have been written closer to Halloween:

INSTRUCTIONS: Please do not show the photograph or the title of this piece to the students until the end of the exercise. Read the following story with as much dramatic license as you are comfortable with (the idea is to put an image with emotional impact in their minds). After the reading they need to spend 15 minutes (max.) producing their picture of what they thought they’d heard. Emphasis that this is not about their artistic expertise but to help them develop their ability to get the ideas in the their heads on paper (visualization)—an important step to good writing!

The face in the photograph made me think of a nightmare I had when I was seven or eight-years old. I used to love basketball. Just like you guys, every day before school, every recess, every lunch I’d be bouncing the big orange ball. I loved it so much that my dad put a hoop and backboard up above our garage (he was also probably just tired of hearing my brother and I hit the garage door when we would pretend to have a net). And at night, the Lakers were on the radio and I’d listen to Chick Hearn talk a thousand words a minute about some incredible play they’d be making. In a word, I had basketball on the brain.

Then one night I went to sleep and dreamed that I was at a Laker game. I was still too young to know any of the players but there I was standing courtside watching this one player making lay-ups. The whole arena seemed to be empty except for me and this player making lay-ups and some coaches walking along the sidelines. The whole place was dark except for where this guy kept circling. I was standing just outside the light. Then he started to do slam dunks. I don’t remember how many he did. I just remember that he was jumping higher and higher; higher than I had ever seen anyone jump. Then it happened.

He jumped up to slam one and he jumped so high that when he started to come down he hit the rim with the center of his back. I heard this horrible crack and looked away. I knew he’d broken his back. When I turned back around he lay on the floor in a heap, his legs and hips didn’t seem to be connected to his upper body anymore.

The coaches came running over to see what had happened. With one coach on either side of him they picked him up off the ground. Each coach had to grab the basketball player with one hand on a shoulder and the other hand at his hips, literally holding his body together. I knew that if the coaches let go of him that he’d fall to the floor like a pile of sticks. Then he started bouncing the basketball again and the coaches walked around with him in little circles. His legs barely worked and he almost didn’t seem to realize that he’d been split in two.

This went on for several horrible minutes. I couldn’t stand to watch, but I couldn’t look away. His body bent and broken with two coaches holding him together he just kept bouncing the ball and walking in little circles. I wanted to run. But where? And then he suddenly turned and stared me dead in the eyes and I saw his craziness, that he had become some kind of deformed monster. Then I suddenly woke up. jbb

(Click the link to see the original photograph that inspired the story)

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,


Continue Reading

Temple on the Waters – A Writing Exercise

boynbook I went to work during my break to begin going through my stuff, tossing some of it and putting some of it in boxes, in preparation for my move to Florida. As is pretty normal for this process I had to keep myself from spending too much time reading through everything. As i was tossing papers left and right I found a folder with a couple writing exercises that I used to use with my 6th graders meant to help them with their writing. This one was called a Quick Draw Visualization Exercise and based on my notes it looks like I must have given this to a substitute to do with my students. The instructions and following story was written by moi over 12-years-ago, on March 5th, 1996:

INSTRUCTIONS: Please do not show the photograph or the title of this piece to the students until the end of the exercise. Read the following story with as much dramatic license as you are comfortable with (the idea is to put an image with emotional impact in their minds). After the reading they need to spend 15 minutes (max.) producing their picture of what they thought they’d heard. Emphasis that this is not about their artistic expertise but to help them develop their ability to get the ideas in the their heads on paper (visualization)—an important step to good writing!

I had no idea how long we’d been drifting down this river. I had dropped my compass and map into the water days ago. It was hard for me to trust the river guide, but I didn’t have any choice. I was tired and the days of endless rain made me want to curl up under one of the smelly canvas tarps to sleep the rest of this trip away. I was on the edge of getting mad because I hated hiding from the rain under this stupid tarp. I had gone into areas of this Asian country that I had been told to stay away from and now I was hiding from the rain and some very mean looking soldiers with big guns who were not particularly fond of nosy Americans with cameras. My mom told me that coming here was a bad idea. Thanks mom.

The river guide started chattering about something and he was very insistent about it. Part of me kept saying, “Just keep your head down and it’ll all go away.” But the guy wouldn’t shut up. If his blabbing didn’t attract attention then me sticking my head out to see what was happening wouldn’t mess things up either. I took a deep breath, anticipating the worst. Then I hesitated. I got my cameras ready. I figured if I was going to get my head shot off I’d at least try to get a good picture out of it. I took another deep breath and then threw back the tarp.

For a moment I was blinded by the sun. When I’d crawled into my hiding place the world outside had been filled with grays, and rain drenched drab greens. But now the sky was a bright shimmering blue with one or two pure white clouds scooting away from the sun’s brilliance. And on the water, the thing that the guide had been yammering about… rising out of the water on a beautiful white wooden platform stood a proud colorful Asian temple with a tall tower pointing up to the sky like a long thin finger. I just stood there for a moment with my mouth open, forgetting about the cameras hanging around my neck and whether there might be any solders hiding in the bush. It was all so different from what I had expected. And then without thinking I brought the camera lens to my face and started shooting.

The white platform had a railing all around it that looked finely carved and freshly painted. There were also stairs that led to the waters edge. The temple itself didn’t have any walls but just finely carved wooden beams holding up the red and orange and green roofs. It wasn’t just one roof like an American home and but in all four directions of the building there were three little roofs one above and scooted back from the other until they all met at the tower or spire that stuck out of the center of the temple. There were little pointy carved objects that stuck out of the crest or peak of all of the roofs. From this distance they looked like little carved unicorns. I could count ten of them on the edges of the roofs. The tower on the top of the center roof was as tall as the roof was above the platform. When I looked really closely I could see someone or someone’s statue standing in the center of the temple. I couldn’t see clearly who it was. Just then I heard the grunts of soldiers on the shore and dove back under my tarp. Then I spent the next endless hours crouched in the darkness praying that I’d get home to develop these pictures. jbb

(Click the link to see the original photograph that inspired the story)

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,


Continue Reading