The Updates #5

Estimated Reading Time: 8.5 minutes

Dare I say that I am actually consistently doing these updates?  

A slow week with the dissertation; I was supposed to have a meeting but that will happen this week; after which, I will hopefully have to the go-ahead to start seeking out participants. Hoping by next week's update, I'll be sharing the call for participants and getting everything in place to start interviewing participants in the following week.

A photo of the title screen of Back To the Feature on a screen at a drive in theater
Checked out this 80s class at the
Mendon Drive-In Theater

The intensity of the Moodle transition is slowing down and starting to have some space to think about next steps with Moodle, faculty support, and the semester as a whole. I'm also excited that I'm about 2 weeks away from a 2-week vacation at the end of September.  

Still, I continue to have rich conversations and interactions with staff, faculty, and staff about what we do next at CU in terms of supporting teaching and learning with technology. While that will inevitably include Moodle, I look forward to what else we can do.

The bigger challenge of the week (and the previous week) is establishing a new rhythm.  Because we do evening classes on Tuesday and Wednesday and those classes require a lot of prep and support work (setting up rooms and checking in with faculty), it means that I'm occupied with that between 5pm and 9pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm an early bird so getting home around 9pm is definitely not a strength I have (though I certainly have in the past).  Coupled with that, there's a lot of office-time, people-time, and action time, from Monday-Wednesday so that Thursday feels like a bit of a hangover day where I'm recovering a little bit in terms of energy and attention.  I'm not sure what the solution is though I feel like I need to do some journaling around it in order to get a stronger sense of how to create a new flow during the semester.  
rhythm of late nites

What I'm Reading

This Census-Taker by China Miéville: This might be the first of Miéville's that I've read and I enjoyed it well enough.  It's an intriguing story of a boy who has witnessed something horrific by his father but no one quite believes him and as he acclimates to this, he also understands that this world has its own fair share of strange occurences.  

Alone by Christophe Chabouté: I read Yellow Cab a few weeks ago and was very meh about it.  But Alone is a much better representation of Chabouté's work.  A recluse lives in a lighthouse and two men bring him food in a boat every week. The recluse entertains himself by opening up the dictionary randomly and pointing to a random word. He then visualizes this word in action in some way. The graphic novel is big in size and limited in language and works well to capture the power of visual storytelling.  

A Brief History of the Future of Education: Learning in the Age of Disruption by Ian Jukes: Publishing in 2019, this book feels both dated and filled with the techno-utopian babel along with spurious use of research and quotes from folks who give TED Talks. I had to struggle to finish it, hoping that it had kernels of wisdom or even useful critique.  Much of the pandemic illustrated its shortcomings. They want to see systematic change but all of the things they recommend are individual educators' change and so it feels like all surface fantasy with no deeper structure.  

Snow Angels: Season Two by Jeff Lemire:  Lemire is one of my favorite comic artists; there's just something delightful and thoughtful about his work.  Snow Angels isn't his best work but is still enjoyable.  It has that essential part of Lemire's work when dealing with sci-fi which is the lost figures trying to understand a world much bigger than they first imagined and somehow, outsmarting or one-upping those from that bigger world.  

Book cover to The Final Girl by Kris Rose

Great Courses: How Technology Influences Language by James Pfrehm
: I really enjoy Great Courses; I listen to them often. I find they are great primers on many topics that I'm interested in.  Phrehm's course is solid; it provides an interesting relationship between technology and language with some keen insights that make us all thing about the interdependent dynamics of these two things we often think of as distinct.  Given that language itself is a technology of sorts, it becomes fascinating to think about how language and the need to capture it (writing), communicate it across vast distances (telegraph, telephone), freeze it (records), and digitize it (internet, smartphones) have had distinct impacts on our language.  Solid reading for folks that want to find smart considerations against the often mindless arguments about how technology is making our language less sophisticated.

Final Girls by Riley Sager: Is someone trying to kill the final girls?  The answer is yes, of course and this novel explores one final girl's attempt to survive another round of being attacked. It's an ok story and the villain is obvious pretty early on; which, of course, makes the story a little less exciting because it feels like the protagonist, a final girl herself, would be smarter.  Grady Hendrix's The Final Girls Support Group is a much better take on this subgenre. 

The Final Girl How Horror Movie’s Made Me A Better Feminist by Kris Rose: My cousin sent me along this fun zine on Rose's experience with the horror genre. It was focused largely on 1970s and 1980s horror movies; films that I am largely familiar with and grew up so I appreciated hearing Rose's commentary. It was also fascinating to see how the narratives helped her with her own life.  Still, it feel a bit directionless and maybe that's me and my failure to understand and appreciate zines.  But it felt a bit scattered or just jumbled together than a cohesive text.  If Zines are your thing, then definitely check out her work and others here.

Black Hammer, Reborn, Part I by Jeff Lemire: Another Jeff Lemire book--clearly, my library delivered this week!  Enjoyable exploration into the Black Hammer series, Lemire's own attempt to build out a superhero universe. If you're already into the Black Hammer world, it's worth a visit--if not, then get reading!

Infinitum by Tim Fielder: This Afro-futurist tale follows Aja Ọba, a king of an ancient land who is cursed to live forever and must witness everyone he loves die and be destroyed. We followed Ọba from the past to the present and far into the future. It's an intriguing tale and yet one that I could wholeheartedly imagine more as a series of graphic novels rather than just one. There's so much about Ọba, his character, his relationships, and how his mind and mood changes over the millennia that it would have been amazing to see the story more detailed and nuanced.

What I'm Watching
I got to check out a few new shows this week and revisit a classic.  

A League of Their Own:  Enjoyed the first two episodes. I enjoyed the movie many years ago and can already tell they are trying to engage with lots of different elements here.  A part of me had hoped they were going to go with the Orange Is the New Black approach of giving us backstories and explorations into each of the players.  That doesn't seem to be the case at this junction.  Still, they've got a solid cast with some strong narratives coming out among the relationships with each of the main characters.  

The Rings of Power: Episode 1 is in the books and I enjoyed it and will continue to watch it. The pacing felt all right and the visuals of the land are stunning; the battles, less so.  Enjoying some of the characters we encounter and the Harfoots get the most smiles and intriguing considerations thus far.  

Back to The Future: I am not a big Back to the Future fan but if I were to be one, it's the sequel that I tend to like because they go to the future.  Still, it was playing at a drive-in theater and so we opted to check it out. Despite some of the cliches and stereotypes, it held well as a story and kept me engaged. It makes me wonder what else is there that I haven't seen in a few decades that I might find more enjoyable the second time around.

What's on My Mind

I'm about a quarter into Jane McGonigal's Imaginable (probably will write about it next week) and it has me thinking about the future and not so much planning for it in an exact way but in helping to think about where I am in 5-10 years.  What do I imagine for myself, my family, my friends, and such. What do I see and what do I want to see and how do I best prepare for it?  I feel like I do this on a small scale and have an intuitive sense about what is the right next thing to do but I wonder what's the underlying operating system and what are my bigger assumptions or desires about the future.  So, I'm gathering a variety of resources to explore and read/watch more about it and will report back here what I find.  

Till next week...

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