Monday, March 16, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Future Called...

Many thanks to Natalie, friend and Uber-Techie Teacher, for sharing this video. Consider this, have you blocked the future? (Follow her on Twitter: mswojo)

And how will you right that wrong?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Online Life

I am convinced that I haven't blogged in so long because of MICROblogging. Yeah, you read right... I wrote MICROblogging. 

In case you've been living under a rock for the past few months, or, actually, you have a REAL LIFE, and don't spend as much time in front of a computer as I do, there is this Twitter thing that I tried out on a whim, abandoned, then realized it might be good for something, and has now become this weird amalgamation of things I love and am interested in. 

About 2 or 3 months ago, Twitter was, for the most part, a domain of pseudo-nerds like myself. I saw it simply... I wrote 140 characters worth of what was going on in my life (things like, "I'm reading for tomorrow's class", "I'm writing a paper", or "I'm ignoring the sink full of dirty dishes"- inane stuff like that.) It creeped me out that folks were "following" me (yeah, that's really what they call it) and I didn't know who they were. I wanted more of my friends to be on Twitter, but I couldn't really see the need for it. After all, I was already on FaceBook

Then, I realized something... Folks were following me, and I could follow my friends, but WHO ELSE COULD I FOLLOW? It all started with the New York Times, then specific NYT columnists (David Pogue and Nicholas Kristof; I've e-mailed David Brooks urging him to tweet as well), and then tech guru types (like ReadWriteWeb.) There are the politicians (yes, Barack Obama, who I was following on Twitter before November, and Gavin Newsom, who follows me back.) There are crafty types, like the Ravelry and Etsy folks, and (newly added) the Yarn Harlot! I considered following Jimmy Fallon, but I think he's just the flavor of the week right now...

All that namedropping to say that I haven't taken a moment to sit and write paragraphs because I'm too busy reading folks' 140 character updates and writing my own (which you can follow on FaceBook- my Twitter updates directly to FB.)

Oh well.

But check out Twitter, even if you only use it as a newsfeed...

Off to see what excitement my "friends" are up to this Tuesday night!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Train Horns

Created by Train Horns

Believe it or not, all those years of loud music (and I mean in the present, too, not just the past) haven't affected my hearing. This explains several things, like why I'm being driven crazy right now by the reverb my iPhone is giving the stereo... So, can you hear it? 

Yes, time really does fly...

Is it really March 1st? And has it been forever since I've blogged? Yes, it is, and yes, it has. 

Time really does fly.

I often look at time and its passage this way:
The more time passes in my life, the less of a percentage each minute/hour/day is of the whole, thus making each subsequent minute/hour/day shorter by the, uh, minute. 

So, 'scuse this short entry. I'm just warming up, really.

More later, stay tuned... (oops, there went another minute...)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In grave danger of growing, or, on being 40, a mom, wife, and grad student, part 2

This is a two-fer. That means that I am writing this blog post AND using it for an assignment that's due today (nevermind that today is almost over.) Get it? A two-fer... as in "two fer the price of one."

Here goes...

We read "IN GRAVE DANGER OF GROWING: OBSERVATIONS ON THE PROCESS OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT" (Charles Seashore, Washington, D.C., June, 1975) and I was surprised to find that some of my cohort-mates found it depressing. I, personally, found it validating and freeing in many ways.

This article, which explores the reasons, perils, and pitfalls of folks entering into intensive academic programs (yeah, those are professional development, too), was spot on in many ways for me. First of all, it spoke about the family issue. This is something I ranted about back in June upon completing my first week of grad school (On being almost-40, a mom, wife, and grad student) Now I look back and consider how much that's been ratcheted up by the additions of my full-time job, my eldest back in school, my youngest back in speech, and the impending (damn, how did those sneak up?) holidays. 

In all seriousness, though, it's not just the fact that I'm trying to keep life as normal as possible for my family (O.K., those Saturday classes and every Monday and Wednesday nights are REALLY starting to cut into quality time with my brood), it's the fact that this program has forced not just me to change, but everyone close to me. 
"...these close friends and family are also forced to re-experience some ways that they had become dependent upon the partner turned student, and thus face up to the discombobulating notion that they might have to grow and change, too — all because of that crazy program."
Before I entered this program, there was some talk with friends about my husband having to learn to take over a lot more because I just wouldn't be able to do it anymore. Now, in all honesty, I hadn't thought about that as being a part of a change effort, just as part of a coping method, a temporary coping method. But now I see that this may be a more long-term change, and hooray for that, because I always needed help with the laundry and the dishes! It's not just that, though. My family has had to learn to get along without me for hours and hours, some of those hours long Saturdays when I'm in class. And, I'm happy to report, they are honestly doing just fine. They are happy and healthy and getting to know each other really well, and I am realizing that, yikes, maybe they CAN live without me (sniff.)

I suppose this will be something I go through constantly as my children grow and become more independent. I'm just thinking that I wasn't supposed to go through these feelings while they are the tender ages of 4 and 7. I guess you can't start preparing for the empty nest too early.

But I digress. This article included the Menninger Morale Curve, but, being the tech-head that I am, I found one that fit me a whole lot better online:

I've been to the land of Uninformed Optimism already, had a brief stop in Informed Pessimism, have definitely overstayed Crisis: Checking Out, and feel I am now moving toward Hopeful Realism. (I really hope that this is a straight shot with no detours, but I truly doubt it.) Granted, I'm behind in my papers and have just changed the topic for my thesis project (uh, yeah, I know, it's November) and am paying handsomely for checking out, but I had to live my life, and have fun... right?

Seashore gives his recommendations for what should be provided in a well-designed program:

Informed Consent and Supports for Growth Among the Student's Family and Friends: Well, I think I've had these. I mean, I talked at length with hubby about what this would mean to our family, and we agreed together that it was the right time. I still feel it is the right time. However, I experienced quite a bit of anxiety before the program began not knowing how much work would be involved. I also didn't know how this would affect my family and was hell-bent on making sure it would be as normal as possible for them. I think that more support for "non-traditional" students like myself is needed by folks who are in similar situations. I'm definitely going to look into creating a support group for folks with kids trying to balance this program...

Faculty AwarenessAvailable Support System, and Appreciation and Tolerance for Craziness: (disclaimer: I am not trying to score points here) My program does all of these really well, and that is why we stick with it and make it work, no matter how much we have to do. The faculty are beyond aware, they are even a little psychic, if you ask me, and remain very flexible and understanding. They encourage collaboration, which is the one thing that has saved my ass on more than one occasion. They also do that appreciation and tolerance for craziness thing very well. Now, it could be that they are in the business of education around education. Dunno... all I know is that it's working for me. I love my program, have since Day One, and if I didn't love it, I wouldn't be up 'til all hours doing all this.

Most importantly, Seashore's sixth recommendation for a well-designed program:
Realistic but High Expectations for Professional Competence: Most definitely. I am challenged, but not to the point of frustration. I am growing, but not at an insanely fast pace. I am changing, but it's more like a doable evolution.

So, this wasn't so much of a rant... more like a celebration. See, I really am on my way to Hopeful Realism. Maybe.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Racial Contract and Our Country's First Black President

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Professor Charles Mills of Northwestern speak on his book "The Racial Contract". He started off speaking about how philosophy is the only area of study that doesn't require research; how university presidents love mathematicians and philosophers because mathematicians require only a pencil, a pad of paper, and a wastepaper basket while philosophers don't even need the wastepaper basket. He then spoke of the dearth of folks of color in philosophy; that if there were a convention of Black philosophers, they'd have to travel in separate planes because if one plane went down, and there were several Black philosophers on it, there would be a significant percentage lost. OK, yes, I was expecting a somewhat dry speech on the racial contract, and was pleasantly surprised that it was nothing like that.

So, what is the racial contract, you ask? In all honesty, I'm still wrapping my head around it, but it goes something like this: The racial contract is an unspoken agreement amongst all in society that keeps white folk on top and the rest below. Folks of color are considered "subpersons". All white folk are beneficiaries of this contract, although not all are signatories. Depending on where you stand on this deep, philosophical stuff, this racial contract (along with the sexual contract) takes the place of Rousseau's social contract. 

This morning I read Willie Brown's column ("Willie's World") in the Chron where he espoused on the thrilling of minority workers by the election of Obama. Toward the end, he wrote:
All I can say is, we started out with the promise of 40 acres and a mule. What did we end up with?
A White House.
Well put, but according to Professor Mills, we must stop looking at it that way. To paraphrase, we must stop looking at it like "look how far we've come since Jim Crow". So true. Let's set our sights higher. Let's TRULY KNOW AND BELIEVE that all children, no matter their color, can achieve...

So, how do things change now that our president-elect is a Person of Color? Well, I didn't mention that Zeus Leonardo was there too and I feel that he said it best when he said that now the racial contract has not been voided, but must now be revised. I also agree with the head of my program who said, "It's not the revolution, but it is revolutionary." Amen.