The Updates #6

Estimated Reading Time: 7.5 minutes

The updates continue...  

The entrance to the Oak Grove Cemetery--a rusty sign with its name over the entrance with a dirty road

It's been an exciting week, I got the go-ahead to begin my research study.  Years in the making and now it's starting to happen. More than any other point in this process, it's starting to feel REALLY real!  With the OK from my advisor on Monday, I started to share out the call for participants.  Of course, I did a blog post, as well as posts on 
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.  If you're reading this and know of any folks who do scholarly work of any sort--please send them my way.  

So now, I start to find participants and interview them. I'm ready for the process and am just ecstatic to begin it.  


It's cool to watch how folks self-organize and work together to make things work. I know this happens regularly, but working at an organization that is still building many of the structures of a higher education institution, I'm struck how often we find ourselves creating groups to "figure it out".  Not because no one else is doing it but nearly every other entity in higher education is doing it because they've always done it.  Instead, we're getting to ask ourselves not only whether we should do it but have a better opportunity to think through how we do it and how to do it in a way that is in alignment with our values of equity and justice.  

It's also powerful to work in a place where we are encouraged (even when we're discouraged) to challenge leadership.  I witnessed that this week where even when some part of leadership was resistant to what was said and done, it only fueled our need to say it and call out the silencing effect. That resonates with me about how leadership is not a noun but a verb, able to be done by anyone within an organization.  

What I'm Reading
Slower week of reading?  Maybe but Walkaway was a long book to listen to!

Race by David Mamet
I like to read plays and Mamet's play on two lawyers (one white; one Black) determining whether to take and argue a case of a white man accused of raping a black woman is interesting and messy and complicated.  Mamet does a good job of setting up a complex situation that's saturated with racism in a situation that requires a simple answer (take the case; don't take the case; innocent/guilty) and the dialogue, like many of his plays is snappy, quick, and has teeth. I feel like I need to read it and think through the implications of the dialogue and final scene to consider how clear or useful his exploration of race is, but it's certainly a conversation striker to say the least.

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
Doctorow is such a brilliant thinker and writer. I've read a good deal of his books, fiction and nonfiction. His means of explaining, analyzing, and critiquing technology, capitalism, and society in order to come up with creative new ways of living, creating, and being in community is always present but in this adult novel, he puts it all into the mix with a story about the near future of Defaults (people who accept the default structures of society and the domination of the ultra-wealthy) and Walkaways (folks who have decided to walk away from traditional society to build their own techno-utopic visions of the modern world).  The story follows several characters who become central to the Walkaway movement and what happens when they discover that they can transcend their bodies into a never-ending afterlife--and what happens when the rest of the world does not like this.  Doctorow does well with both explaining the technologies, the problems, and how people use them in his stories without making the reader feel dumb. His characters often have their share of quirks and are loveable/hateable in just the right quantities.  Definitely, a read if you want to think a little chaotically and whimsily about where we're headed. 

Jack London's To Build a Fire by Christophe Chabouté
The photo of a street with an orange sun on the horizon at the end.

I like London's To Build a Fire; I remember resisting reading it several times and eventually coming around to reading it, enjoying it, and eventually, teaching it.  It's a curious story for Chabouté to take up but he does it justice and makes it his own. It's the same story with the same sequence (as far as I can recall) but there's a way he can freeze (pun intended) certain moments and draw (pun intended, again) them out in ways that give the reader to pause to think about what is the experience of that exact moment.  

The Park Bench by Christophe Chabouté
I know another Chabouté graphic novel! I can't help it--it happens when I encounter someone's work and enjoy it.  The Park Bench is much like Alone. It's a big graphic novel and one that shows so much more than it tells.  The story follows the life of a park bench and the ways different people use it.  In a way, it's about the use of space and how we all use or misuse it. While the bench never speaks, Chabouté's work makes us feel that the bench has feelings and thoughts about its regular visitors. The ending feels a little to easy but still worth a read.  

What I'm Watching

Cobra Kai Season 5
We watched the whole thing this weekend and well, there are definitely better ways we could have spent the weekend.  I mean the show is pure nostalgia and ridiculousness and you need to have a sublime love for the 1980s vibe to really appreciate it. I've mildly enjoyed the first 4 seasons but this one, took all the cheese, over-the-top emotion, and bland acting by many of the stars, and hyperbolically stale dialogue and tripled down on it.  The reality is that if you're watching the first 4 seasons; you're watching this one, but not sure it's gonna go down smoothly.  

The show is breaking the 4th wall regularly and reasonably self-away. It's not the same dynamic that you see with Deadpool but there's some kind of relationship between She-Hulk and the camera and it makes me wonder if that will pan out into any actual plotline.  Meanwhile, the "court-case of the week" sitcom approach definitely has its charm for now. 

The Rings of Power
I'm watching it but I'm not pulled into it strongly just yet. The Harfoots are the most interesting and loveable characters.  Everyone else feels largely meh.

What's on My Mind

Plantar Fasciitis
I'm still working through the plantar fasciitis.  It's getting better thanks to regularly stretching it and doing less running and more cycling.  Thanks to some sound advice from a friend (DL), I've been soaking my foot in hot water and epsom salts in the morning and that has definitely helped with getting ti ready for the day.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to slowly ease my way back into running in the upcoming weeks.  

This time of year is always delightful. I love the season and it feels like--at least in Rhode Island--we came into September and we're already getting cooler weather.  I enjoy the crispness of the morning and the slow realization of feeling cool or cold even.  The nights with windows open that have you awake in the morning with a little more nip in the air.  Even the sounds and smell of fall are so more tangible and evocative for me (at least compared to summer).  It also means that I'll be turning down the garden in the near future and getting it ready for next year.  Parts of the garden are still going strong (anyone want some eggplants or hot peppers?), but each week, it's getting smaller--some plants are being pulled or it's clear that other plants' demise is slowly approaching (all my sunflowers are too heavy to look to the sky).  Still, it's a nice time to stop and observe the season in action.

Till next week...

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