Our Green Bug, by J.D. Meyer—Elementary ESOL, Spring 2001

Our Green Bug, by J.D. Meyer—Elementary ESOL, Spring 2001

Our green bug looks different from most bugs. He is not just a green bug. But he’s a shiny, green and black bug. He’s shiny like Maricela’s windbreaker jacket but a darker shade of green. Adrian noticed that he has a thin red stripe on his sides. Our bug has six long legs—like all insects. Adrian believes that he looks like a lady’s painted fingernail. He reminded Fwy of a toy car or truck. Veronica named the bug, D.J. She knows that my name is J.D. from the school ID. Everybody likes the bug except for Raquel. A few people think he’s a stinkbug. I don’t know what he is.
I found him near a creek and thought he had gotten away. Amazingly, he was crawling on me, and I didn’t know it. I drove back to school. I felt him on me when I walked to the door. So I put my hands around him like a cup.
First, I put him in plastic bag that our librarian, Mrs. Roper, gave me. Second, I put the bug in a jar that a first grade teacher, Mrs. Hutchins gave me. Then I used Mrs. Roper’s plastic bag as a cover. I wrapped a rubber band around it. Then I put air holes in the plastic. Now our bug has a temporary home. Later, I put some breadcrumbs in it.
By the next morning, our shiny green and black bug had escaped! Oscar noticed that he had chewed a hole through the plastic top of the jar. He was a fast insect too. Since we didn’t know him that long, we won’t miss him that much. Besides we didn’t have a good home for him yet. I guess our bug was meant to be free!
Adrian caught about twenty caterpillars yesterday afternoon. He put them in a little bucket and planned to bring them to school. I guess another family member stopped Adrian. The caterpillars are slow unlike our fast, shiny, green, and black bug.
Veronica was happy to find out our bug had escaped and cheered, “Cool!” She seemed to be close to the bug. Veronica gave me two green chili pequins when she arrived in class.
Kindergarten was the first class in the afternoon. One of the kids saw the bug on the floor near the computer! The bug wasn’t walking well. This time, he was easy to put in the jar. All of us looked at him in the glass. I set him free on the playground after class. No more false alarms, the shiny green and black bug was free at last!

Frequent Tyler, TX Bus Rider Survey: Answers for a Northside Resident—

Crescent DR & N. Confederate AV.

1. Which bus lines are closest to you?

2. Where are they?

3. Where are the “least distant” bus stops of different lines?

4. Is Bergfeld Shopping Center the closest Yellow Line stop for you?

5. Is the Downtown Transit Depot the closest place for you to access ….
A. Blue North
B. Green North
C. Purple South

6. Where are your favorite bus stops used by three lines, aside from the two hubs.

7. Where would you like to see a bike rack?
1. Two Green South, Blue North, Red South.

2. One Green South is at MLK and Englewood, near the grounds of the now-gone Emmett J. Scott HS. The other Green South is at the Labor Ready on West Gentry . Blue North is at the BBQ place on the NE corner of W. Gentry and Glenwood. Red South is at Palace and Nutbush near an elementary school.

3. Red, Green, & Blue are the only bus lines in North Tyler.

4. The Bergfeld Shopping Center is the closest Yellow Line stop.

5. The Downtown Transit Depot is the closest place to access Purple South.

6. I don’t know of any bus stops serviced by more than one line in North Tyler, let alone three.

7. Downtown at Oakwood AV, W. Gentry & Palace area near Neighborhood Services and D&N, a leading store-restaurant-gas station, & Bergfeld Shopping Center (the 2nd hub).

Frequent Tyler, TX Bus Rider Survey, by Joffre (“JD”) Meyer (Midtown Resident)

Resident of Midtown (Hospital District) near Stanley’s Bar-B-Q

1. Which bus lines are closest to you?

2. Where are they?

3. Where are the “least distant” bus stops of different lines?

4. Is Bergfeld Shopping Center the closest Yellow Line stop for you?

5. Is the Downtown Transit Depot the closest place for you to access ….
A. Blue North
B. Green North
C. Purple South

6. Where are your favorite bus stops used by three lines, aside from the two hubs.

7. Where would you like to see a bike rack?

JD’s Answers

1. Purple North, Purple South, Green North.

2. The closest Purple North stop  is on East Houston at Donnybrook, while the closest Purple South stop  is at Austin State Bank near the SW corner of S. Beckham and E. Houston–across from Trinity Mother Frances. The nearest Green North bus stops are on S. Beckham at Trinity Mother Frances, directly across from Austin State Bank and on S. Beckham just south of E. Front. That Green North bus stop at the SE corner of Beckham & E. Front is less surrounded by traffic than the earlier stop by  TMF.

3. The closest Blue SW southbound stop is next to the new parking garage on S. Broadway between E. Front and Elm. The nearest Green South bus stop for me is on Fleishel & E. Houston, just past “Heartbreak Hill.” The closest Red North bus stop is at S. Broadway–just north of E. Houston. The closest Yellow stop is at its northernmost point in Bergfeld Shopping Center. The closest Red South bus stop is at the SW corner of S. Broadway & E. Front in front of the Catholic cathedral.

4. Yes, the Bergfeld Center hub is the closest Yellow Line stop for me.

5. A. No, the closest Blue North stop for me is across from the new parking garage between Front and Erwin next to the furniture store with all the bean bags, near the abandoned skyscraper.
B. No, I live very close to Green North bus stops because it serves the East side of Tyler, and I live in Midtown (East). C. No, I live in Midtown (The Hospital District), so three Purple line stops are very close to me.

6. Blue SW Northbound, Purple North, and Red North have a stop on N. Broadway across from the new Fair Parking Garage by the old furniture store with all the beanbags.

7. Both hubs, Downtown by the train museum and the Bergfeld Shopping Center, should have bike racks. I’d like to see a bike rack next to D&N in North Tyler on Bow ST near Neighborhood Services and a Green South stop at W. Gentry and Palace. Finally, I’d like to see a bike rack at the Downtown Square.

SOL 15 Later than Tuesday: Editing a Self-Help Booklet & When Bottles & Cans Turn into Vases

Yes, I didn’t get around to submitting an article yesterday, or I forgot. What I have been doing among other things is editing a self-help booklet for a new good friend. This is good in more ways than one: (1) extra money, (2) finally doing something English teacher-like again, and (3) the content lives up to its self-help purpose.

First, I went through the 50-something page booklet with a pencil. The problems were minimal: a need for more paragraphs and more commas after introductory phrases sums up about 85% of the task. Now I’m actually making those corrections to the typed copy that was on his flashdrive.

It dawned on me that I have two types of ineffectual responses to rude remarks: the deflated, sad, barely speaking response and the panicky, PTSD-like, blurting ramble. Maybe I’ll be better prepared next time.

Now let’s discuss some of my my alternative vases. I like to stick bush branches full of leaves in attractive cans filled with water, or artificial flowers in cans weighted down with rice. I started this hobby with fancy bottles and artificial flowers. One big can has an attractive orange Cigna Health Springs coozie on it.  For years, I’d been putting artificial flowers in bottles. There’s a can of Monster energy drink called “Heavy Metal” with some big bright red fake flowers that contrast with the green and black can.

Is it okay to admit the vast majority are beer cans? We’re talking about home decor not classroom decor. Furthermore, Tyler finally went damp in December 2012. A mystery bottle features some bright red, artificial, paintbrushes with maroon and black backdrops. Then there’s that beautiful State of Texas-shaped tequila bottle–Republic– that also bears a bush branch. This empty bottle was given to me from the neighborhood BBQ/bar–too expensive for me to do shots. I tied five matching 4Loco cans with a hose-like sock, and I just added four cans from another brand on top of them, Bud Light Margaritas, encased in a black bandanna. That big can with the coozie is a special edition Miller with Harley-Davidson decoration. It bears a red poinsetta, black rose, and tiny white flowers. The Harley Miller at the bathroom sink has a bush branch. Just because one is a straight male and poor doesn’t mean that one has to be interior decorating impaired. You’ve already heard about my family photos in the apartment.

If this alternative vase/industrial art goes over, I’ll bring up more decorating tips. I’m sure I’ll be done editing the booklet.

SOL 15 Tuesday: Miscellaneous Thoughts–Survivors, Proofreading, Moms, & Buses.

This has been a miscellaneous day, thankfully. My last two Tuesdays have been intensely heavy: the murder of my favorite student and my case for limits to freedom of speech after the incident in Garland, my favorite school district in which to substitute teach. I hoped/prayed that I’d see a long-lost friend, and I saw two. A friend of 18 years showed up at my door a few days ago, and he’s moved closer. We met in East Dallas and he’d lived in North Tyler previously. Little could we have predicted that I’d move to Tyler, teach at the HBCU in North Tyler, and teach or live there for 11 years. Then he moved back to Tyler. Now Greg is just a few miles west, as he’s moved from North Tyler.

Then I saw a former student , turned friend, whose uncle was my pastor for a while. Turns out, Windell survived an attempted murder in 2013 and showed me his six knife scars. It really meant  something extra the week after mourning Kemell’s passing. At least his assailant was captured and given life without parole. I couldn’t bring up the tragic slaying of Kemell to him.

One of my newest best friends, Wharton, has hired me for a proofreading assignment. It’s an African-American self-help booklet written in the style of an AA text–really profound and touching. Extra paragraphs is really the main thing he needs; it’s nothing like grading a Developmental English essay. I’m half-done and taking a break, partly to deal with misty-eyes. Playing Bobby Womack probably compounded the intensity.

Mothers’ Day was unexpectedly good. On my way back from church, I acknowledged that I better leave folks alone because they either have living parents and/or kids. Much to my surprise, a favorite neighbor friend girl/bartender, Heather, drove up with her mom (younger than me) and her grandmother to say, “Hi.” I mentioned Facebook messaging the lyrics of “She” by Halford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwuFLRLKmFY to a bass player friend buddy of ours. I played this tender ballad at Mom’s funeral, for it was written in honor of the singer’s mom and my Mom liked it too. However, Mom was stunned to see Rob Halford in his leather-and-metal uniform..lol! You can’t always predict who will touch or break your heart.

I almost forgot to mention the account of our second transportation committee field trip of the East TX Human Needs Network (ETHNN) to the new south-most shopping center, Cumberland Park. I took notes, partly to enhance the outdated bus map, which doesn’t go that far south. Tyler is a very rectangular city that grows south away from I-20. We ate at Rotolo’s Pizzeria, and it was great and filling, as I took a doggie box home. We hope to increase bus ridership through our efforts, but we don’t have to worry about this route, as it’s a service-job mecca. Later I wrote an essay about the experience and once again proposed that we build a pocket park across from the central transit depot. There’s already a cement slab with steps and a ramp there! Stay tuned.

SOL 15: Does Freedom of Speech Have Limits in the USA? Yes!

Yesterday, we awoke to the news that a Draw Muhammad event in Garland, Texas was interrupted by a wannabe terrorist attack of two that was promptly squashed by the heavily armed security forces at the auditorium.  Freedom of Speech was saved once again, much as it was when Neo-Nazis marched among Holocaust survivors and the Ku Klux Klan marched somewhere before illegal acts of violence and death. Then we have that Westboro Baptist church that seems to hate the US military and gays. The Garland event disturbed me on a personal level because I substitute taught in that school district happily for over five years, often in Bilingual Elementary. A saddened Garland resident noted that the Islamophobic event only drew 200 people in a city of 234,000–just east of Dallas https://twitter.com/TxMableRose.

Now we can’t cry “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is none, nor create child pornography, so there are some limits. Are there any others? I decided to do an Internet search and go to a couple of Wikipedia sites first. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exceptions

“Fighting Words” is “speech that tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace” by provoking a fight. Personally abusive words are inherently likely to cause a violent reaction…a personal insult. Importantly, this charge is limited to private figures. Thus, I was within my rights when I yelled an expletive and “got in someone’s face” for his wearing of a Ho Chi Minh T-shirt in a public place. As a former ESOL teacher for South Vietnamese POW’s, I was incensed to see somebody proclaim the dictator of North Vietnam during that war. I’m sure an older man who was a Vietnam War veteran would have behaved in a similar, if more violent, manner. However, my rage soon turned to sadness at the subsequent childish ramblings of my much younger acquaintance. True to my prediction, the last time he wore the Ho
Chi Minh T-shirt, a Vietnam War veteran made him take his shirt off!

The “Fighting Words” limit was upheld in the Supreme Court in the Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire, 1942 verdict. Chief Justice Frank Murphy upheld the arrest of a Jehovah Witness sidewalk preacher, who called his arresting officer a (bleep) racketeer and damned fascist while organized religion is a racket. Such fighting words neither contributed to the expression of idea nor something of value in the search for the truth. Note that these fascist accusations occurred at the peak of World War II! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_words

“Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” (IED) occurs when the defendant (1) acts intentionally or recklessly, (2) is extreme and outrageous in conduct, and (3)  act is the cause of distress. (4) The plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of the defendant’s conduct. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress

“Extreme & Outrageous Conduct” involves the following: (1) a pattern of conduct, not an isolated incident; (2) the plaintiff was vulnerable and the defendant knew it; (3) the defendant was in a position of power; (4) racial slurs were used; and (5) the defendant owed the plaintiff a fiduciary duty, which means a legal or ethical relationship of trust. Pay close attention to #3: The defendant was in a position of power. That’s the opposite of the grounds for prosecuting the “Fighting Words” version of the limits to freedom of speech. Donald Trump’s successful campaign for president frequently relied on bullying behavior– especially versus Mexicans and Muslims. Critics of Trump were often labeled as being too “Politically Correct (or PC),” as if honesty means little manners and joy from being sadistic.

Let’s look at some earlier highlights in the career of Geert Wilders, a guest speaker at the Draw Muhammad contest in Garland http://www.economist.com/news/international/21640748-netherlands-restrictions-free-speech-allow-provocateurs-pose-martyrs-illiberal

Wilders incited a crowd of followers to shout that they wanted “fewer Moroccans,” to which he replied: “Then we’ll see to that.” He faces prosecution for remarks prosecutors say demonized a population group rather than criticizing a religion. Wilders uses prosecutions to be a martyr for free expression. Wilders has the ongoing goal of banning the Koran by comparing it to Hitler’s Mein Kamf, a manifesto that’s banned in The Netherlands.

McClatchyDC.com  cites a political science professor who points to “fighting words” and inciting.”

“There are two exceptions from the constitutional right to free speech – defamation and the doctrine of “fighting words” or “incitement,” said John Szmer, an associate professor of political science and a constitutional law expert at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“Fighting words is the idea that you are saying something that is so offensive that it will lead to an immediate breach of the peace,” Szmer explained. “In other words, you are saying something and you should expect a violent reaction by other people.” The exhibit of cartoons in Texas might have crossed the line, Szmer said. “I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect what they were doing would incite a violent reaction,” he said.

The event was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Muslim hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its leader, Pamela Geller has made outrageous statements, such as President Barack Obama is the love child of Malcolm X. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/05/04/265537/after-texas-shooting-if-free-speech.html

Since Ms. Geller and Mr. Wilders are public figures, they could have been taken to court under the “extreme and outrageous conduct” limit to free speech. They are in a “position of power”  and it’s certainly a “pattern of behavior, not an isolated event.” In the previous decade, I received a remark on a Developmental English competency exam that I’ve grown to respect. The essay prompt was “Should there be free speech on campus?” The young lady wrote that nobody should bad-mouth someone’s momma. We need that spirit in interfaith discussions; either that, or bring back the duel.