Happy Holidays 2018

2018 Memories

Family, Friends, and online strangers passing by,

Happy Holidays. I think I’ve said this before about previous years, but 2018 has been a hell of a year, both good and not so good. Hard to believe that it’s been 10-years since I first left Long Beach and now I’ve bought a place in Las Vegas. Also second year in a row my robotics team is going to compete in the championships. There’s been more music, more adventures, more conversations, more goodbyes and more time wondering what’s next. Thank you for being there. I am hopeful that this next year is going to give us more opportunities to enjoy each other’s company and journey. All my love, jbb

images used in the montage:

When You’re a Stranger in a Strange Land

Daily Random Shit for 2016-02-01: When You’re a Stranger in a Strange Land

I have a number of intelligent conservative friends who unapologetically vote Republican. I like that they have the freedom to choose, just like I do. But when I see this level of hate and scapegoating, I have to wonder what these friends, whom I respect, must think. Is this really what is meant by “Make America Great Again”? Many of us grew up together in Orange County (CA), when there were still orange groves and bean fields between Mission Viejo and Santa Ana. We played baseball and football and did puppet-shows in the summer. All of our families were from some place else, but we came together and our folks made a pretty good life for us. Now a new generation is trying to do what our parents did, make a better life for their families from wherever they came. Isn’t that what made what we experienced growing up great, the possibility to build a better life? And the freedom to disagree, I thought that was part of the deal too. But to be spit upon and threatened, when is that ever part of making America great again? I knew we all want what’s best for our families and those closest to us, but it’s never acceptable for that to be done on the backs of the person who looks different, or speaks a different language, or is new to this land. Argue with all your might how we’re going to do better to address the challenges of making the world better than how we found it. But don’t blame the sojourner in your midst. Those who know their bibles should know that it just takes a very little thing and you might find yourself a stranger in a strange land, needing the assistance of others.

Video originally posted at https://www.facebook.com/CeCeRogers.Musician/videos/10153974288629416/ posted by CeCe Rogers

Subliminal Ethnicity

Ethnically not fitting in is something I’ve had to deal with my whole life. Some are even surprised that I’m of any particular ethnicity. The following essay was published in Fuller Theological Seminary’s student journal, Ember, in 1985. At the bottom of this post is a downloadable PDF version of the original submission and footnotes. Enjoy.

Ethnicity. At my wedding my Pastor made a passing comment to my mother about “How nice it is that Kim and Joe got together, coming from different backgrounds and all,”[note]As if it wasn’t bad enough that I wasn’t being married in the Catholic Church then my well—meaning very—Anglo Presbyterian pastor made that comment … What a way to begin married life.[/note] I’d understood the comment to refer to the fact the Kim and I grew up under different family arrangements and had different educational experiences, and how nice it was that the Lord brought us together. Unfortunately my mother saw it as some sort of ethnic put-down.

1960s, Mich, Joe, Kathie, Dad, Matt and Joyce

[/media-credit] 1960s, Mich, Joe, Kathie, Dad, Matt and Joyce

Even before leaving San Gabriel[note]My parents were born and raised in San Gabriel, CA of parents that immigrated to this country sometime around the First World War. San Gabriel lies in that area of Metropolitan Los Angeles that would eventually be called East L.A., L.A.’s major barrio.[/note] in the 50’s my parents had pretty much acclimated to the larger culture around them. They had been fortunate and resourceful enough to be a part of America’s Post-War Prosperity and any reminder of their “heritage” by an outsider was in some way a denial of their full rights as paying customers on this voyage. They weren’t like some minorities with a chip on their shoulder who lamented their supposed less-than-privileged status. But having chosen that road somewhere between San Gabriel and the fabled American Melting-Pot there were more than a few volunteers to remind us of our ethnic “heritage” and how fortunate we were to be here.[note] In 1977 my father (self-taught landscaper who spent many years digging ditches for college grads who couldn’t landscape themselves out a sand box) made his way into a “White-collar” position at the Irvine Company in the early 70’s. (Can you tell I’m proud of the man?) He took us from Walnut Creek, CA (near Oakland), where we’d been for two years to an little known collection of track homes just north of San Juan Capistrano (in Southern California) called Mission Viejo.[/note]

Having been raised in white neighborhoods all my life, my Ethnic Self-identity suffered from that sense of not really belonging, I’d essentially come to see myself as a white kid with a Spanish surname and an appreciation for good Mexican food. But no matter how well I identified with my surroundings, on the basis of my last name alone, I was always “that short Mexican kid that lives down the street,” or just “Joe Burrito.” Not that I have any problems with being called a Mexican, I am one (I think), I just wonder what they mean by what they say. I mean, I have yet to hear someone refer to another individual, second generation American, no accent, maybe a serving of sauerkraut once or twice a month, as “that short German kid that lives down the street.” There’s a subtlety here that disturbs me.

I am about as “Oreo” a Mexican as they come.[note]An “Oreo” Mexican is a Mexican that looks Mexican on the outside (Black hair, brown eyes, olive skin, etc.) but inside he’s as white as Jerry Falwell (political views not included). What is white anyway? I’ve never seen a White person. I’ve seen some that come awfully close. But if we’re going to be honest with ourselves we might as well confess that we are all just different shades of the same color.[/note] So why the differentiation? Why the preferential treatment, the EEOC quotas, etc.?[note]In my case, five years of undergraduate work at two private universities funded by the State of California to a large extent because of that infamous surname of mine.[/note] To make right the wrongs of racism committed in the past? Then why the almost simultaneous prejudice? Why this persistent distinction?[note]I may have not been refused a seat on a bus or admittance to a restaurant or theater or employment opportunities because of my race but I have had my share of relationships with females end because of a parent’s “concern” over the “unnaturalness” of the relationship. You’d think I was a Cholo or some’ting.[/note] What it seems to boil down to is that we are Ethnically more of what we think we are than what we may actually be. Subliminal Ethnicity. In my white neighborhood I was the token Mexican kid but when we went to San Gabriel I was the “Oreo” that didn’t fit in. Subliminal Ethnicity. The road back to San Gabriel is paved with memories for my parents but for me and my siblings it doesn’t exist, though our white neighbors always seem to assume it does.

In my white neighborhood I was the token Mexican kid but when we went to San Gabriel I was the “Oreo” that didn’t fit in.

And as more groups are swallowed by the Monolithic Caucasian culture it’s important that those of us that are aware of our ethnic heritage (even if it’s just subliminal) retain it and express it for the right reasons. Too often ethnicity has been used as a means of exclusion from being a part of the whole. Even in a setting such as ours where Ethnic groups seem to have a voice in our social policies, if this voice, this platform is just a means to placate the demands of the minorities than we are obviously still not part of the whole. The important thing to me (coming from my white neighborhood and all) is not to see my ethnicity in distinction over again my white neighbor (whose only concept of heritage or history is completely egocentric —patterns of our existential ideal?) but to see it as something greater than I that has had a part in making me the kind of person that I have become. It is a point of unity, a point of community. It is family. For those of us that are Hispanics, it is our common Hispanic experience. And for all of mankind, if we’re willing to face it, it is the common human existence. Subliminal Ethnicity.

[pdf-light-viewer id=”17305″]

Diving into the Past without Drowning: Day Trip to Laguna Beach (1973)

Diving into the Past without Drowning: Day Trip to Laguna Beach (1973)

Original 8mm Film by Joe Bustillos
Edited by Joe Bustillos & Random Chance
Music by Smartsound Music, “Visions 22K”
Filmed on location in Laguna Canyon & Laguna Beach CA in 1973
Featuring Lynn Tschirgi & cute white puppy

I just spent the last hour watching an 8mm film that I and several others shot in the early 1970s. The film is a collection of footage that I’d gotten from Creagan’s family, the western we’d done in junior high and several other reels that I had lying around and converted to VHS when I did the 1994 “Looking for Creagan McConnell” documentary. I recently had the 8mm film converted again, this time to DVD/digital format. I’d remembered the stuff from Creagan’s childhood and our “Come Against the Rain” footage, but I’d forgotten about all the rest of the stuff.

The forgotten part consisted of footage I’d taken in 1973 during a rare family vacation to Olympia, WA with water-skiing clips, a day trip to Laguna Beach with my girlfriend, Lynn Tschirgi and her little white powder-puff puppy (see the embedded video below), and ended with life-on-campus footage my older sister, Michaela, took at Mission Viejo High School.

The cars, the hair, the clothing, dudes on choppers, hippies with fishing poles walking on the rocks; It only seemed fitting that, particularly the Laguna Beach scenes, were slightly out of focus and blown out. These are moving images that come from an era over 40-years ago. Oh my god, we were so young and that was such another time. But after watching the whole thing, in silence, I feel very lucky to have these reminders of the journey I’ve been on.

With all of scanning of photos and papers that I’ve been doing these past months, I’ve been warned more than a few times that one can overdose on too much nostalgia. That’s obviously true and if I were looking at these things wishing I was back there, that’d be a problem. And this isn’t something limited to the regretful memories of us old folks. Hell, I’ve known a few in their thirties who talked about the “good ol’ days” before they were married, like it’s already all downhill for them. But, for me, this is not the case. I’ve been forced into a transitional mode where I have no idea what lies ahead for me. I simply can’t say that the past was any better than what might follow. In fact, I consider myself fortunate to have so much access to so much of the journey I’ve been on.

The day-to-day grind that I’ve been on, especially the level of concentration and effort for much of my teaching career, tends to afford one very little connection with past accomplishments in the rush to get all the stuff on ones priority list done. And over the past six-months of looking and not finding the next job, one can easily allow ones sense of accomplishment diminish. I mean, if no one seems interested in ones services, after a while one can begin to believe that there’s nothing there of value. That transition can happen really quickly. But I’ve been lucky enough to find scores of articles, recordings and projects that I did as a writer, as a journalist, as a researcher and as an educator, enough to remind me that there’s more here than the need for a wage. Add to all of this, I’ve been fortunate enough to have shared this journey with some amazing family, friends and lovers. I may have no idea where I’ll be in another year, but I’m really glad that I left digital breadcrumbs of the paths I’ve taken along the way.

Blog Action Day: Inequity and The Opportunity to Learn

dad and mom - post-WWII dreamers

dad and mom – post-WWII dreamers


My mom and dad grew up in the post-World War II boon when they really believed that you could achieve anything that you worked hard at. They grew up in San Gabriel, CA, where the joke was that everyone was related to one another and it was understood which side of the railroad tracks, which ran directly behind my grandparents’ houses, one should stay on. But my dad was a dreamer and moved us away from San Gabriel, and briefly away from Southern California. When we returned to Southern California we ended up in very white Orange County, in a place called Mission Viejo and the year was 1965.

The community may have had a Spanish name, but we were the only Mexican-American family in our neighborhood that I remember. Dad and mom became fast friends with the Olivareses, but they were way on the other side of town. All of the kids I remember growing up with were various shades of white. That said, except for the occasional random name-calling, I don’t remember many cases where I was treated any differently than any other dorky kid. Mom said much later that she thought that my younger brother and next older sister had it more difficult than I did because they were darker than I was. I didn’t see it, but then I was just a kid and all I cared about was football, my G.I. Joe and the Apollo space program.

I grew up believing and then acting on the belief that you can be anything you want to be, if you just work really hard at it. It was a different time and I was able to just be a kid with no concerns about food or whether someone might take our home from us or keep my dad from doing his job. I never worried that someone might say that I couldn’t take any class, sport or school organization that I would want to participate in. I knew that I was lucky to grow up in this place, at this particular time in history, but I never really thought about how life for others wasn’t anything like what I had experienced.

Somehow it was understood that, even though my grandparents only had a grammar school education and my folks got as far as high school graduation, Education was going to be the key to having a better life. It was just a given in my mind that after high school I was going to go to college. It never dawned on me that some people had to choose between making a living or getting an education. And the idea that someone wouldn’t be allowed to continue their education because of their gender, their ethnic heritage or because of which religion they were raised with was even more foreign to me. I knew that school wasn’t some kind of better-job-factory, as much as it enabled one to reach beyond ones upbringing, ones native village and participate in the much larger world. Ones native language, country of origin or what ones father did for a living was immaterial to the task at hand. What was more important was ones willingness and energy to learn and the diversity of experiences one brought to the learning.

So, I’ve never really known inequity in my career or social life because I was one of the lucky ones who had access to Education and I was able to jump in with both feet and have never stopped learning. And now as an educator, going into my 20th year working with students, I see that my job isn’t to be someone’s judge or inquisitor. Life is hard enough and will do that job well enough. I’m the coach meant to push and motivate the students to do more and be more than they ever imagined that they would accomplish. My job is to bring as many along as are willing to do the work and surpass anything that I might have accomplished.

There will always be places in the world where small-minded people will inflict others with their own self-doubt and fear and backwater mythologies. But as my life has enjoyed great freedoms from restriction, so others will overcome and move beyond the inequities that they might have grown up with if they have access to Education and the opportunities presented having endured the process.

The Journey from Doodler to Writer

It would probably come as a great surprise to my elementary or middle school teachers that I fell in love with writing, much less learning itself. I was always of a curious nature, but generally not in a way that worked well with staying in one’s seat or working without talking. It probably didn’t help that, as a kid, I also pretty much hated reading. What changed much of this for me was when I fell in love with words.

dapnon1As a kid I loved drawing and spent hours creating monsters and rockets and silly cartoon versions of myself and my friends. I probably would have happily spent the rest of my life doodling but in junior high I quickly discovered that girls weren’t particularly interested in drawings of monsters or rockets and thus began to experiment with putting thoughts to words. Thankfully most of those experiments in writing have long vanished, but that was the beginning of my infatuation with words and writing.

This infatuation blossomed during my Sophomore year of high school when I became a Christian and I began to read the Bible. Prior to this I rarely read anything longer than the instructions that came with beginner model kits (and even then I never really read the instructions). So, somewhat to the consternation of my friends and family, I totally became immersed in reading the Bible in as many different translations as I could afford. Spending time trying to understand the King James’ Elizabethan English opened my eyes to the fluidity and power of language and words in a way that I’d never appreciated before. I became thirsty to understand and learn more and more. All the adolescent insecurities of not knowing ones self found much needed reassurance and security in stories and passages from a time two-thousand years in the past. Thus I went from being a mostly non-reading “C” student in elementary school to becoming a motivated “A” student in college and graduate school.

My relationship with technology was equally circuitous. Simply put, in the early 80’s personal technology was becoming a reality for any working slob and I was looking for an easier way to do my writing. At this time I had also begun what I thought of as a temporary job for the phone company (a temporary job that lasted for 15-years!). I found myself, an artist, among technologists. But I did well because I was a quick study and the job enabled me to begin my long relationship buying technology.

kayproI remember stopping into a computer store in some mall shortly after the original IBM PC was introduced and when the sales person approached me I thought that there was no way that I could afford to buy one of these things and walked away. Ha! One income tax return later and I was spending every waking hour drooling over every bit of information that I could get about these things. My brother, who was more familiar with small computers, steered me away from the newly introduce Macintosh and IBM’s offering. I was soon the proud owner of a 35-pound Kaypro transportable computer with it’s 9-inch green screen, 5-1/2-inch floppy disks and 67K of RAM. As rudimentary as this machine was, I couldn’t imagine how I wrote papers or did any writing before getting my “little” green-screen friend.

Circuitous route number three: Teaching; Teaching was an idea that I toyed with after completing my first B.A. in Biblical Studies but couldn’t settle on a subject to teach, so I went back to school and began studying for a Master of Theology at Fuller Seminary. When my marriage fell apart, taking with it my aspirations for full time ministry, I began a second B.A. in Communications/Journalism. By the time I finished this program I couldn’t imagine a day without writing but was also convinced that I had no need to endure the egos or small-minded ambitions I’d encountered during my student newsroom experience from editors barely out of their teenage years wanting to make a name for themselves (Go CSUF Titans!). Somehow that decision led back to a second look at a teaching career, by which time I’d also figured out that I didn’t need to decide on a subject matter if I taught in a multi-subject elementary classroom… doh! And because my path to teaching had meandered through lots of different paths I didn’t realize that no one else used technology the way I had when I began teaching. I just did what made sense to me. Thus, I became the technology teacher. That switch led to specialist positions creating a video-journalism academy, then computer-lab teaching assignments and eventually teaching online at Full Sail University.So, somehow after so many years into this journey, the technology and the teaching and my love of writing seem to be coming together. And to think, in the beginning all I wanted to do was find a better way to do my writing.

Video Wednesdays: Caine’s Arcade

I can’t tell you how much I love this story. I was this kid and to this day get ribbed to death by family members for trying to make things with cardboard and tape all through my childhood. Rockets, cities, clubhouses, you name I tried to build a version of it using cardboard boxes and tape. It does my heart good to see a nine-year-old boy get such a great response for building his dream arcade. Even if it’s only constructed with cardboard and tape, it’ll endure forever in his life (check out his scholarship fund to make it last even longer). Enjoy.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

A 9 year old boy – who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad's used auto part store – is about to have the best day of his life.

Help Caine's Scholarship Fund:
http://cainesarcade.com

Caine's Arcade Online:
http://facebook.com/cainesarcade
http://twitter.com/cainesarcade

Credits:
Directed by Nirvan
http://twitter.com/nirvan

Sources:

9-year-old’s DIY cardboard arcade gets flashmobbed By Mark Frauenfelder at 8:19 pm Monday, Apr 9, 2012 http://boingboing.net/2012/04/09/9-year-olds-diy-cardboard-ar.html

The Threat the Internet Represents to What We Value in Life

Back from California, I had a great brief visit with family after a wonderful return to Macworld. During my family stay I spent some time doing the tech-support thing and got some work done bouncing between whatever computer I was working on, my MacBook air, iPad and iPhone. My niece exclaimed at one point, “how many computers do you have?!” I just smiled.

One thought that lingers came from a heated conversation that I had with one brother-in-law about the anti-SOPA movement. If the conversation is any indication of what the masses feel about what happened with the anti-SOPA movement that the message is getting really mangled out there.

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