The Updates #23

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Week 23 of the updates and I'm 4 days late!


I finished up one more transcript but this week was consumed by work (also work is why I'm 3 days late with this post!).  
  • 143 days until June 1
In the foreground, a tree with many of its dead leaves still on it.  Behind it are evergreen trees.
When Leaves Refuse to Leave


Lots of things going on but largely that's the start of a typical semester. The Fall to Spring transition is hard because we end late in December and start early in January (as in January 9th). So, feeling a little rattled and like there's a lot to do yet.

Still, my biggest excitement is that Digital Interventions: AI & Education is definitely running and we've got a great group.

What I'm Reading

The Delicacy by James Albon:  An interesting graphic novel about two brothers who lived a sheltered life and how going into the world changes them both in different ways. One brother starts a restaurant that takes off but he is entirely dependent on the other brother to make it successful. There are elements of Cain and Able and also the city as the place of corruption (which I find tedious at times).  Still, the story holds pretty well.

Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery by bell hooks: I had been on a bell hooks kick of late (mostly because a bunch of her stuff is now available in audio and I can finally get to it).  Overwhelmingly, it's interesting to see hooks' insights about self-care and community and how these two pieces interconnect particularly for Black women.  There's some parts of it that feel a little dated or limiting (a focus on positive thinking; a focus on physical healthy bodies that feels a little limited) but it's also cool to see how works like this eventually give rise to some of the work by folks like adrienne maree brown today.  

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman: A fun and quirky tale about Carol who regularly and inexplicably dies repeatedly.  When her death happens this time though, nefarious forces are at work to bury her before she revives. With a Western setting and a series of people chasing one another, it's got some charm that even for those who don't like Westerns can really enjoy.

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter by Daniel Heath Justice:  A well-reasoned exploration of the centering of Indigenous literatures, what they are and can be, how they've been suppressed and what are some of the works across style, genre, and medium.  

Girls' Last Tour, Vol. 1 by Tsukumizu: A fun manga series about two girls exploring a largely abandoned world in their tank, trying to find food, people, and what happened.  

A stack of books horizontally stacked with a bookshelf behind it.
Book Spine Poetry

Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization by David Livingstone Smith
: So this is definitely the kind of book I would have tried to delve into and make my students read when I was teaching a course on monsters back in the late 2000s and it would have floundered for all the right reasons. It's an excellent exploration of how we dehumanize people (and more importantly what do we mean by terms like dehumanized, less than human, race, etc) and it's also an extreme dense text.  I know if I was eye-reading it, I would not have made it far--thank the powers that be for audiobooks! It's a deeply philosophical book that can push one's thinking about how we treat one another differently but it is not for the weak of heart when it comes to drawing out deep understanding.   

What I'm Watching

Willow:  One more episode left. Again, it's not great but it's fun enough and has some good beats to it.  

Bad Batch:  A good 2-episode opener. I'm surprised but how much I was waiting for this. It took me so long to watch Clone Wars and Rebels (as in, I didn't touch them until 2020) and even when I saw the notifications that Bad Batch was going to be made, I was meh--but now, I really enjoy this series.  

Knives Out: Glass Onion:  A fun murder-mystery that I enjoyed. Danielle Craig is pretty fun and Janelle Monae is one of my favorites (though I wish she'd put out more music!).  It's not great but a highly enjoyable "whodunnit".  

This Week's Photos

When Leaves Refuse to Leave:  We were taking a hike on one of the Trustees of the Reservation properties and appreciated seeing this tree who was clinging fiercely to the leaves though they were largely dead.

Book Spine Poetry: I had the opportunity to buy a bunch of books recently and was working my way through my "buy list"--books that I've read and decided it was important to own. So when the books came in, I realized they made for an interesting collection of titles especially when I aligned their spines.  So I put them together and snapped this photo.  And here is how I would place those spines into actual lines:  

Elegy for Mary Turner
Prophet Against Slavery, Long Time Coming, 1919
Grasp, From the Periphery, We Want To Do More Than Survive
Learning In Public, Electric Arches, Reading the Silver Screen, Digital Body Language

What's on My Mind

The whiplash from the end of the holiday break back into work with the semester starting has kept me overly focused on all the things I need to do.  It's caused me to do some reflecting about my work but nothing I have the mental space to expand upon here and now, but am sure I will in the next week or the week after that.  

Words of the Year

So what about those words of the year.  

Focus: I feel like I used this in lots of this way as I tried to get things done and stay on target for what I needed to do.  Still, it did not feel like deep focus but fleeting focus--keeping my eye on something long enough to know it was done and then off to the next thing. There's something to ponder about that.  

Kindness:  I missed this opportunity a few times this week.  Times when I should have reached out to people I care about and want to support or places where I let my stress get the best of me when kindness would have been better.  More to learn and think about here especially as my stress increases.

Earnest: I feel like I achieved this in conversation with a friend this week as I tried to speak to realness of feelings and concerns that they were facing and recognizing the enormity of it and trying to find a way to speak to it.  

Till next week...

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