Category: Book Review

“Ray & Joan” by Lisa Napoli

Viewing the eclipse through our ancestors’ eyes

Of the Keizertimes
On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will pass over the breadth of the United States for the first time since 1918. While the ease with which we access information now allows us remove the mystique from celestial events. That wasn’t always the case.
In preparation for the eclipse, the Keizertimes is taking a periodic looks at the significance of eclipses and the evolving ways humans view them. We’re starting by looking way back.
Our ancestors blamed everything from demons to animals to wars between heavenly bodies as the cause for eclipses of all types. The paths the moon and sun traveled – as well as their seeming convergence – worked it’s way into mythology and legend from many cultures.
The Lord of Hanh’s Troublemaking Frog
In Vietnamese culture, eclipses were attributed to pet of the Lord of Hanh. According to legend, a giant frog tried to escape his master when the neighboring lord would fall asleep.
The frog would try to swallow the moon and could only be forced to cough it back up by the Lord of Hanh himself.
The ladies of the moon would rush to wake the Lord of Hanh from his slumber, which is why young Vietnamese women would beat rice bowls with pestles to summon him when eclipses occurred.
Korean cultural eclipse myths took a different spin on this tale in which fire dogs, called Bul-Gae, were sent to chase down the sun and moon. When they caught their prey, the sun was too hot and the moon too cold to hold for long. Animals swallowing or blotting out the sun during eclipses are frequent imagery in eclipse lore.
A Grotesque Punishment
In some Hindu cultures, the solar eclipse has a bloody origin. Based on a Hindu epic, trickster Kala Rau disguises himself to take a drink of an immortality elixir at a banquet of the gods.
However Vishnu, one of the supreme deities of Hinduism, is aware of the deception and decapitates Kala Rau before he is able to swallow leaving his head immortal while his body dies.
Ever since, Kal Rau’s head has chased the sun and moon across the heavens. When his head catches up, he eats them, but the sun and moon reappear after passing through his throat.
Heads Will Roll
In Chinese legend, two royal astrologers were tasked with studying the heavens for omens.
It was thought that eclipses were a dragon swallowing the sun and only through the actions of man – including archers firing in the direction of the sun and drummers beating their instruments – could it be scared off.
When an eclipse escaped the astrologers’ projections, preventing the dragon-deterring rituals from taking place, the pair was beheaded. However, the lasting effect was subsequent Chinese astrologers taking the issue to heart and calculating eclipse events in greater detail than many cultures had before them.
Contagious Anger
While eclipses were rarely viewed as good omens, there were some cultures that found hope in their passing.
According to the legends of the Batammaliba people in Benin, West Africa, the sun represented the creator God Kiuya, who had left earth for the heavens.
When the people of earth began quarreling amongst themselves, and the resentments eventually reached the heavens causing the sun and moon to battle. The people began making offerings to Kiuya and the darkness subsided but, feeling the need to further appease the heavens, also made offering of peace to their neighbors.
In this way, eclipses came to be viewed as a sign of the need for peacemaking.
Keizertimes intern Emily Dolph contributed to the reporting in this article.

Black student dropout rate spotlighted at SKSB meeting

Of the Keizertimes
The dropout problem, especially involving African-American students, took up much of Salem-Keizer School Board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14.
While it was not an action item, the board heard several comments from the audience, largely calling for the Community School Outreach Coordinator to expand from its focus on English Language learners to become involved with the problems of black students.
“We need to institutionalize support for African-American students,” was one of the comments from Phil Decker of Salem, principal of Four Corners Elementary School.
Benny Williams of Salem, president of the Salem-Keizer branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the district was making progress “but at a snail’s pace.” He observed that dropouts occur because students feel disengaged.
Will Collins of Salem, a classified employee and former student of the district, who has a minority background, said the disengagement led to his absentees and suspension.
On a related matter, several representatives of the Salem-Keizer Education Association spoke of the SKEA’s affirmation that it is an inclusive union whose objective is to protect all students’ rights. One of them noted that Oregon leads the United States in per capita hate incidents.
In other business, the board approved several grants, the largest of which was $2,408,849 from the Oregon Department of Education to ensure that students in schools with high percentages of poverty meet the challenging state academic standards.
Other grants from ODE are $21,218 for trainings and activities involving students who have disabilities, $20,700 for other student disability matters, and $1,000 for career and technical student organizations involving McNary High School and Grant Community School. The remaining grants are $15,000 from the Northwest Health Foundation Fund for physical activity programs before, during, and after school, for Keizer Elementary School and seven other schools; and $1,785 to provide supplies for the 2017 Eagle Feather Graduation Celebration.
Board members praised the work of Mary Paulson, who is resigning as chief of staff of the district to become deputy executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association. Her successor is Linda Myers of Keizer, whose title will be director of strategic initiatives.
Myers comes from the Silver Falls School District, where she was director of curriculum and instruction for 10 years. In the preceding 10 years, she taught in the Salem-Keizer district.
Personnel actions approved at the meeting involved three people in the McNary attendance area. Hired as temporary part-time teachers were Sherrin Landis at Claggett Creek Middle School and Tracy Loumena at Whiteaker Middle School. Also at Claggett Creek, Melissa Koenig was hired as a first-year probation full-time teacher.

Weed, meth, cocaine, heroin and oxy

Of the Keizertimes
A weeks-long investigation into the activities of a Keizer man yielded a major drug bust for the Salem Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit (SCU) on Thursday, Feb. 16.
Members of the SCU, assisted by officers from the Keizer Police Department, acted on three search warrants in Salem and Keizer resulting in the seizure of 40 pounds of marijuana, 17 pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of cocaine, a quarter-pound of heroin, 10,000 oxycodone pills, $40,000 in cash, five firearms and two sets of body armor.
Police arrested 36-year-old Casey Miser, of Keizer, who is charged with delivery of methamphetamine, delivery of cocaine and delivery of heroin. Miser is being held at the Marion County Correctional Facility with bail set at $1.5 million.

“Miser’s been on our radar for about two years and we just recently got enough on him to start working the case,” said Lt. Steve Birr, of the SPD Special Operations Section. “He’s unusual from the standpoint that you don’t usually see a guy working an 8 to 5 job and slinging dope in the evenings.”
Miser worked at All-American Truck & SUV Accessory Centers on Portland Road Northeast, the site where one of the search warrants was served. Birr said Casey Miser is the son of an owner of the parent company.
Birr said drugs were found at both the business and Miser’s home in the 1300 block of Rafael Avenue North.
“It was one of the nicest homes we’ve ever executed a search warrant on,” Birr said.
Jeff Kuhns, KPD deputy chief, said the home was not a source of complaints to the department.
“The illegal possession and distribution of controlled substances can have many different faces. It can include those who have a lower economic status and lifestyle to those who have a much higher economic status and lifestyle. The spectrum can be very broad from those who use, distribute or possess grams or ounces of controlled substances to those who possess and distribute pounds,” Kuhns said.
Given the large quantities of many different controlled substances, Birr placed Miser on the upper end of the spectrum of drug dealers.
“The baffling things are the weed and the cocaine,” Birr said. “Given the legalization of recreational marijuana, 40 pounds is a lot of marijuana. We also rarely see cocaine anymore, most of that has given way to meth. (Miser) had two full kilos of coke and little bit more.”
Birr was not able to offer insight into why Miser had the body armor, but said the bust was the largest in the area since the spring of 2016.
The KPD Community Response Unit provided manpower to conduct surveillance and then execute the search warrants.
While the arrest and seizure capped the investigation, it isn’t the first time Miser has had run-ins with law enforcement. In 2011, he was convicted of possession and delivery of marijuana, as well as first-degree theft. Miser served 16 months in prison as a result, according to court records.

McNary bowlers going to state

Of the Keizertimes
What started with just three bowlers, junior Aneeka Stephen and two sophomores, Mimi Garza and Cassidy Steckman, blossomed into a district championship for McNary High School.
With the addition of sisters Cecilia and Natalia Valle midway through the season, the Lady Celts defeated McKay on Sunday, Jan. 22 at AMF Firebird Lanes in Salem to win the district crown.
“They didn’t have a lot of experience and won district,” said Dan Kaplan, who coaches the McNary boys. “That shows (girls coach) Kathy (Kaplan) is an amazing coach.”
With the victory, the McNary girls qualified to compete against 15 other teams in the state high school tournament on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26 at KingPin’s in Portland.
McNary’s boys team also qualified for the state competition by finishing third in the district behind McKay and Silverton.
The Celtics team includes Nick Blythe, Tim Kiser, Derrick Lucas, Adam Teal, Layton Thurlow, Konnor Sjullie, Garrett Hughes and Chandler Gregory.
The boys will also compete against 15 other teams at KingPin’s in Portland.

Elizabeth “Betty” Swick