Chinook Jargon

Absorbing tid- bits of knowledge during functions, meetings or parties is a workplace perk.. But for today’s luncheon, I would  remain clueless to the importance of Chinook Jargon. As a proud British Columbian, it escapes all reason why school aged children don’t learn this chapter in Canadian history. Hard as I ponder; reasons for failing to include Canada’s first language in school curriculum eludes me.

Chinook evolved from the need to communicate; a simple tool consisting of fewer than 500 hundred words – easily mastered by Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and Polynesians. The common language of trade and commerce. A universal tongue in an increasingly multicultural colony.

Chinook jargon was one of those casseroles your Mom plunked on the table – a little of this, a little of that, crush corn flakes or potato chips on top and you had dinner. Somehow it just worked. Chinook took away barriers; people could appreciate similarities rather than differences, learn from one another and developed a sense of community. Chinook Jargon reflected the true meaning of a multicultural society. From the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s, Chinook was spoken by as many as 250,000 people.

Chinook’s march towards obscurity is understandable; the first world war, Spanish Flu epidemic, increased movement of people across the country, and changing attitudes towards “colonial” thinking. What I don’t understand is how I managed to live in B.C. for over 50 years and not hear mention of it until today. Canada is a special place, a place built on principles of acceptance, inclusion and tolerance – regardless of race.

The more I ponder – the angrier I’m getting. Angry is perhaps too strong a word – flabbergasted that we squander one of the most useful and valuable learning tools to cross my path in a very long time – a concept rich on so many levels, an opportunity to teach our kids the value of not only communication but acceptance. Not to forget how amazing it would be for kids to speak to each other at recess in Chinook. Kids would gobble it up -my head spins with possible angles to enrich young lives.

This link is to an article  The Tyee is a great place to start thinking Chinook.

“Konoway tillicums klatawa kunamokst klasa mamook okoke huloima chee illahie” – Everyone was thrown together to make this strange new country.

Guilty Pleasure

I’ll come clean and admit a guilty pleasure – I’m addicted to television, not just any TV, specifically the History and Discovery channels. My PVR is set to record anything about the universe, ancient history, aliens, or conspiracies. The first two are easy to digest, the last two – not so much. Far from being a conspiracy or alien nut there’s still plenty of thought provoking ponders to sift through.

Ancient Aliens has sent me along the research path countless times. The show becomes tiresome, and I hardly ever make it to the end, but along the way I do pick up questions that are difficult to answer. Not for an instant do I think we are alone in the universe, nor do I believe Hitler escaped in an alien time capsule, the Sasquatch is an alien, or ancient Egyptian and Maya kings travelled through a star gate to distant worlds. I do wonder how precisely cut stone weighing up to 100 tons could be quarried miles away and transported across river valleys to the top of mountain peaks, then set in place so precisely you couldn’t slip a hair between them. It plants a smile on my face to know pyramids in Mexico are lined with Mica quarried 3000 miles away in South America. Rather than alien intervention I believe in lost civilization; I’m certain thousands of years history pre-date our accepted historical timeline.

Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura or Brad Meltzer’s Decoded are way out there. Just the same; I thank them for my knowledge of the Alaska triangle and Bohemian Grove. While reassured that George Patton wasn’t murdered, I’m not buying that copper from the Great Lakes fuelled the Bronze Age or the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in America.

Anything you ever wanted to know about the universe is waiting for you on television. Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, The Universe, Known Universe, Cosmic Front – it’s all there. For the first time in my life I “get” string theory, know the difference between White Dwarfs and Red Giants, understand why tossing a cast iron frying pan into the sun would create a super nova, and that one day the universe will run out of hydrogen and go dark. Aftermath and Life After People have shown me what would happen if the world ran out of oil, the earth stopped spinning, we had no moon, or were hit by a massive asteroid.

I fall asleep listening to Monarchy by David Starkey or Neil Oliver’s The World After Stonehenge; something about a British accent that sends me off to sleep. In my corner of the world we have the Knowledge network; commercial free programs like The Story of India, Spice Trails – chronicling the early spice trade, or Brazil with Michael Palin.

Admitting my guilty pleasure is not a source of shame. I’m smart enough to take things with a grain of salt, put them in perspective, or use my research skills to learn more. In all honesty i would be lost without a voice to put me to sleep every night.

Antikythera Mechanism

Ask anyone what comes to mind when pondering ancient Greece; I guarantee they won’t say analog computer. We harbor vague ideas about ancient cultures. For most, it’s what we learned in school, dusty textbooks our only inspiration School children grind pencil crayons to stubs coloring depictions of the Sphinx, Roman Coliseum or Greek Gods for title pages of social studies reports. Neat little packages of safe assumption are recycled from generation to generation. Textbooks ignore dusty corners that defy explanation. Homogenized ancient history timelines never stray from middle of the road safety. No questions please, sense of wonder not required.

Thankfully I didn’t buy it. I always knew dark, dusty corners had stories to tell. Every time I look at them, astonishment feeds my sense of wonder, it makes me giddy knowing past civilizations kicked ass in ways we may never understand.

At the beginning of the 20th century sponge divers off Antikythera island found a bronze device along side cargo from an ancient shipwreck.No bigger than a laptop it’s stumped historians for well over 100 years. Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, it is referred to as the world’s first computer.

The mechanism resides at the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens. British archaeologist Derek Price voiced a theory in 1959 that it was a device to calculate astronomical events. In 1974 Price built a model, attempting to show how entering past, present, and future dates could predict everything from solar and lunar eclipses to moon phases and position of the planets. Modern x-ray imaging reveal at least 30 gears; each one a different size, with different numbers of interlocking notches and pointers. The device has over 2000 characters, most deciphered, but never published. Believed to hail from around 100 BC, it was found with wreckage of a massive Roman ship, but is considered Greek – most likely the spoil of war.

It’s hard to verbalize how satisfying it is each time I learn of an ancient head scratcher. The reason doesn’t really matter to me, for as long as I can remember I’ve believed history was not as it seems. I smile every time we have more questions than answers.  Ponder a 2000 year old machine that after 100 years we still don’t fully understand. Enter it on the list of other things we didn’t learn at school;  Derinkuyu, Catalhoyuk, Gobekli Tepe, Puma Punku, and Nabta Playa – you all shatter dusty timelines or elude explanation, and no one has even heard of you. We’ve all heard of ancient Greece, I won’t hold my breath but hope that might be enough to start looking at things differently. The Antikythera Mechanism doesn’t shatter timelines, all the same I’d love to hear my seventh grade teacher explain it to the class.

Pondering Pyramids

Pondering pyramids is tricky business. The mere mention of pyramid mystery elicits rolled eyes and wise cracks.  Fortunately I have a thick skin and open mind. Its interesting how things we don’t understand or can’t explain somehow become quackery.

I honestly have no explanation for the pyramids or countless ancient mysteries that rattle in my head. It would be impossible to arrive at any conclusion based on what little we know. I don’t believe we’re alone in the universe, I’m certain there were civilizations long before our accepted timeline of history,  I don’t believe a ” sentient being ” is responsible for life on earth.

For these reasons I embrace ancient mysteries. Nothing less than awe describes the accomplishments of ancient cultures. The Great Pyramid at Giza is remarkable. It stands as the most perfectly aligned structure on earth to “true north”, within 3/60th of a degree. The curves built into the radius exactly match that of earth. We think of it as a 4 sided structure; it actually has 8, each side is slightly concave – a feature only evident from above on the spring and fall equinox when a shadow is cast. The 35th course of blocks is thicker than the rest and gives a mathematical figure equal to the precision of the equinoxes. Shafts built into the sides are perfectly aligned with Orion and Sirius. Click on the link below and ponder the incredible list of head scratchers associated with this structure.

No one knows how many pyramids are on earth, they’re found in every corner of the world, and number in the thousands. As with so many ancient structures they defy explanation. Pondering their wonder doesn’t mean you believe in alien contact, the supernatural, or deny God; al it means is that you’re willing to entertain possibilities.