The Updates #2

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Ok, week 2 of updates. I think I might be able to possibly keep up with this (did I couch that in enough suggestive language?).  

My two pilot interviews this week got postponed.  But I did meet with one of my committee members to do a practice interview.  She interviewed me using my protocol.  She's the methodology expert and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be on the opposite side with such an experienced phenomenographer.  I can't imagine how much I would have missed had I not gotten to be interviewed by her and observe the different techniques.  This upcoming week is two of the pilots; so let's hope I'm ready.
A close up of a black cat's face as she stands on a table looking at the camera
Bear was in need of my attention
for cuddles or a treat or both?

Work is in full gear and I feel like my mind is never far from it right now.  It makes sense, a learning management system transition and the start of a new semester, which is technically my first start of the year at College Unbound (started last year 3 weeks into the new semester).  I'm getting to a somewhat Zenn approach to it all where I know things are not going to be perfect, there are going to be a lot of things to fix and figure out, and also, it's all going to be ok.  I like to think this is both a mixture of my own comfort with the intensity to come (I should be used to it by now after decades in higher education) and also, our leadership who also seem to roll with things and don't get worked up or riled easily during these times.  

The transition continues to go well or as best we can.  Faculty feel supported--at least, the ones that I'm talking to.  This week is a bit more focus on students and getting them situated with Moodle.  I did somehow manage to send a detailed email to faculty last week that a few have said was one of the most kindest and gentlest and helpful kicks in the asses they needed.  Maybe there's a career in communications around that! 

It's an interesting situation to be in as an instructional designer.  You are the support for faculty and you want them to do well and at times, you can feel the mounting pressure of the semester when you know there are many more of them than you can provide assistance for at once.  So when you know the state of affairs in terms of where faculty are at and how soon the semester starts, you have to find a balanced approach to nudging them and making the pathways to getting ready as clear and as easy as possible, while also knowing that some are banking on waiting until the last minute, at which point, a good deal of them may need help from you--thus pulling you in so many different directions.  It's a challenge of the role but I did sign up for this.  In fact, my hope is that in the moments when faculty are frustrated and challenged, they can talk with me and I can support them through their stress so that they can be best prepared for the students.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't create some sense of stress and angst in me when I think about how quickly that queue might form.  

There's also being back in the office regularly for the first time in 2.5 years. I've had mixed feelings about it for a while.  I still do but I'm--as they say--leaning into it more. I have amazing colleagues and seeing them daily is filling my bucket. I think it's definitely something I need more of.  Also, commuting to my work is nice since I'm largely biking to work and it's helping me learn the area more as we're still figuring out our ways around Providence.  

Funny aside or incident of the week:  I somehow needed 3 bikes to get to work this week.  My first commute on my commuting bike was going fine until 4 spokes all popped at once and I had to get to work and home on a slightly wobbly tire.  I started using my mountain bike then and was also using it to use the paths in Roger Williams Park.  On Friday, I was moving along and next thing I know, the pedal came off.  So I had to use my partner's bike to get to work.  Such fun!  A good outcome of this was that I found a new bike place (Legend Bicycle) and they are fantastic!

What Am I Reading

Another full week of reading and listening to good books!

A bee inside a yellow flower gathering pollen
I caught this fella helping out
my squash plants the other day.

Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter's School by Courtney E. Martin
If you're a parent interested in equity, justice, public education, and raising your child in the United States, this should be high on your list. Martin explores what it means to think through the options and challenges in navigating education for her children and the tension between self-good and social good.  She does this by talking through her own parental journey in figuring out what school to send her kids to but also by talking to a variety of other parents about their decision process and resources allocated to the process. I appreciate how Martin keeps reminding the reader of the complication of the process and also, the pitfalls and problems that exist that lead people to make certain decisions that reinforce the status quo. 

True or False: A CIA Analyst's Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis
Otis provides a good beginner's guide to information literacy for the lay reader. It's not great but it is useful at times.  If you're looking for a basic primer that won't make your brain hurt; you could do worse.

Pearl, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
Tattoo artist gets caught up in organized crime and falls in love with a guy. A lot more than that because it's Bendis at the helm but an enjoyable enigmatic read all the same.

Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 3: Jedi's End by Cavan Scott
The High Republic series in Star Wars takes place 200 years before trilogies. I've read about half of them and still trying to find a way to care because while it is interested, it just doesn't seem to have the heart or anchors that the rest does.  This third volume in the comic series fills in lots of things and follows three particular Jedis (can't even remember their names).  The villains in the series are fascinating but there's not much else going on here.

Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan
I finally finished this book--as in, I read books 1-8 back in the late 1990s and started rereading this series 2 years ago and am finally onto new material.  No spoilers but this was one of the book endings within the series that felt like it had weight and is moving the story forward in tangible ways.  Not enough Perrin, but for me, there never is.  

Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States  by Dannagal Goldthwaite Young
Solid book that explores why liberals veer towards satire and irony in their media diets (John Stewart, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, etc) and conservatives lean into outrage (Alex Jones, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter). Young provides a clear history of politics, entertainment, and technology to show us how we have arrived at this point and then delves into sociological and psychological studies that help to understand these tendencies. It was published a few years prior to the 2020 election but it's fascinating how much of what was written resonates with observations in the book.

Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
Powerful poetry on blackness, gayness, and being a person in the world navigating the pain and beauty that is around us.  Worth the read and worth the re-read.

What am I Watching: 

What We Do in the Shadows, Season 4
It continues to make me laugh with its ridiculousness.  I mean, vampires on Staten Island trying to run a nightclub.

Paper Girls, Season 1
Finished this one. Definitely a solid series and now the long wait begins for the next season.  

What's On My Mind:

Still producing but slowly demising, my garden is also not getting the attention from me that it should.  It's a reflection of my state of mind these days as I try to juggle a couple things including work, dissertation, and some upcoming deadlines for the Northeast Popular Culture Association; a scholarly society I help to run.  Still, I think I'm starting to feel things turn and a path forward.  Now, if I can only get some things in the ground for a bit of a fall harvest!

That's all I got for today--catch ya next week!

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