Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shrinky Dinks with Tracy and Rose

Seasons Greetings LIFEers! We ended our 2011 year of LIFE with a fun class making holiday ornaments the old fashioned way - with Shrinky Dinks! Librarians Tracy Williams and Rose Botkin reminded us of childhood fun, 1980s style, by bringing back the shrinky dink - an image you can color on special plastic sheets which you then bake in the oven.

You can buy Shrinky Dink kits at toy stores or craft stores, or you can buy just the plastic sheets at craft stores like Hobby Lobby. First, draw your source image on a blank sheet of paper, or you can use a ready-made image (like we did in class). Place the sheet of plastic over the source image, and trace it onto the plastic with permanent markers. Color and draw to your heart's content. When you are finished, cut out the plastic image. Don't try to cut out the image precicely, it is better to cut items out in an oval or circular shape since pointy parts will be sharp and might fold over on themselves when they bake. Be sure to leave a large space big enough for a hole punch, if this is to be an ornament or necklace. Next, line a cookie sheet with tin foil or thick paper (grocery bag thickness), and bake the cut-outs at 325°. They are done when they've shrunk and are laying flat. Keep an eye on the cut-outs while they bake so they don't curl up on themselves.

Tip 1: Make your source image big; they aren't called "shrinky" dinks for nothin'. After baking, the final image reduces down by at least half.

Tip 2: Markers on the plastic sheets makes for a glossy, stained-glass like finish. To get a matte finish, rub the plastic sheets lightly with sandpaper before coloring.

Have a safe and happy holiday. We'll see you next year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Courageous Pearl Harbor

Greetings LIFEers! Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a day that still lives in world history, or as President Roosevelt revised it, "infamy". Our class was joined again by Professor Sandra Harvey, who was one of twenty US NEH grant recipients who were allowed to study and interview Pearl Harbor eyewitnesses. She brought with her pictures and tales we won't get to hear much longer.

So how do we remember Pearl Harbor? First, many people think of the survivors from that fateful day. Dr. Harvey and her group met several witnesses; American servicemen and several Japanese-Americans living on Hawaii at the time. One of the Japanese-American survivors of Pearl Harbor was later a survivor of Hiroshima too. Many of the remaining survivors were concerned about their legacy after they died - that the humanity of Pearl Harbor, the stories of the survivors would be lost. They didn't want the memorials to be just about the battles and military, but also about the civilians and lives that were destroyed that day.

A second way to remember Pearl Harbor is through the artifacts left behind. Wheeler Air Force Base is one of the few buildings from the attack that was not rebuilt, and retains bullet holes and damage from the attack to this day. A Japanese Zero was found crashed a field. The pilot survived and hid with sympathizers. The Zero is on display at the Pearl Harbor Museum, along with the Hickman flag and a B-25, the bombers from the Doolittle Raid.

After the people and artifacts, a third way to remember Pearl Harbor is through the actual sites. After US citizens, Japanese citizens are the 2nd largest group of visitors to the Pearl Harbor memorial sites. But Japanese tend to view memorials differently than Americans. To the Japanese, memorials are not to glorify the dead or remember a battle, but are to reflect a lesson learned. The Hiroshima memorial has no names, rather it is a monument to peace. Americans tend to capture the moment in our memorials, whereas the Japanese see view memorials as what to avoid. How we each interpret the site is how we remember the event.

Finally, a fourth method to remember Pearl Harbor is through our cultural memory. We keep Pearl Harbor alive through movies, TV, books and the internet. Many good (and bad) films try to capture what happened that day.

After staying on the island for two weeks, interviewing survivors, visiting the museums and memorials, Dr. Harvey said the biggest impression she took away with her was the one the survivors most wanted: reconciliation. At the Arizona memorial, there are two roses laid down each week; one red, one white. When we say "never forget" are we talking about the battles, or are we talking about the lives lost and the bigger lessons learned from that war? What do we want the lesson of Pearl Harbor to be?