Annual moments list 2013

I’m not much on New Year’s resolutions, and I find the click bait articles of the past year with the constant listing of the 25, 27, 30, etc. things you need to know about whatever topic dizzying and grating in their attempts at false cultural curation. But I am big on the top five moments of the year list I’ve been doing since 2003? 2004? with my friends Dan and Walter. The moments can be one moment or culmination of moments. It can be combined things as well. Here’s my list.

1) Emily and Kyle’s and Ann-Gee and Noah’s respective weddings. I love it when people I love get hitched; it’s even more profound when it’s the little sister. Bonus, in Emily and Kyle’s case I’m going to be an auntie!

2) Manchester/Portland/Seattle. As readers of this blog know, I travel a lot. This year was actually a light trip year, but I went to Seattle and Portland for a conference (with students) in March and then to Manchester for a conference in July. As always, travel shifts your perspective. In this case, I’d never been to Manchester before, much less the north of England, so this trip gave me an entirely new perspective on British culture. Oh, I also got to read Dickens’s letters to Elizabeth Gaskell. 😉

3) I got to see Vampire Weekend and Frank Turner live. Both have great new albums and put on great shows.

4) I wrote a lot this year: one conference paper, one essay for an edited collection, one essay revised, one book review, and another essay accepted for an edited collection. Also one essay published, and one collaborative essay on cultural studies pedagogy getting wrapped up. Oh, and that maddening, frustrating promotions portfolio with its roughly 80 pages of narration. I still want to set it on fire, but I’m also deeply proud of it.

5) I took up running and yoga. Neither of these were New Year’s resolutions. I started doing yoga because I needed to manage my stress levels. I’ve done yoga before with videos and it doesn’t get anywhere near the experience of a regular class. I adore my yoga class, and the fact that it doesn’t start back up again until January 14th has me bummed. I was surprised, and remain surprised, by how just an hour of yoga makes such a huge difference in my mental outlook. It really can flip the switch on a bad day and help you get perspective on frustrating situations. I took up running partly inspired by my friend April (who is a real runner) and my friend Jennifer who kept on going to these fun races with tutus and color powders. I made it my birthday thing this year, wherein I try new things and experiences, usually with some kind of silly or quirky component. Okay, so I’m super slow and I probably have a form people will laugh at (and let’s be real, the little sister has laughed at me running before), but I like it. I’ve learned you can’t run mad or frustrated, but if you let it, running will flip the switch the same way yoga will. I’m a lighter and happier person because of both.

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Song of the Day: The Killers, “Christmas in LA”

I’m posting this one mostly because I have a soft spot in my heart for Owen Wilson, a small corner reserved for his slightly disheveled, slightly reprehensible lost men. It’s been there since I first saw The Royal TennenbaumsThe song is okay, and I imagine it speaks to people who know LA the way the Old 97s’s “Hitchhike to Rome” speaks to Dallas in the 90s. At any rate, the video is interesting, if a little incomplete.

Song of the Day: Kevin Shields, “City Girl”

Due to the icapocalypse and the ice pruning magnolia tree (and me not realizing that the cable connected where it did), I’ve been without internet at home since Monday. It’s been inconvenient, but since school is open, I’ve been able to get work done there. And it’s been nice to be able to grade these cultural studies essays without feeling the need to immediately put the grade on Blackboard. The essays ended up being only on my desktop computer, and I could have transferred the files via a flash drive, but I’ve preferred grading them on my home computer. Lack of internet has meant that I can’t have NPR on my computer or grooveshark. Instead, I’ve been relistening to what’s actually on the computer, which includes the Lost in Translation soundtrack. New post finals task, rewatching Lost in Translation.

Winter Roundup Day 2

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Winter weather round up number two: Snow day number two in full effect with actual snow. I’m wondering if they’ll even pick up the trash today. I’ve lost several limbs off my magnolia tree, but none hit the house. So that’s a win. But I’ve got no idea how I’m going to haul these things to the front so they can pick them up next week.

Somehow the idea of Forest Kindergarten on a day like this is unappealing, but on the whole, I like the concept. All I remember about kindergarten and first grade is already knowing how to read before I got there and sitting in a circle and singing songs. I’m sure most kids would benefit from being outside, and since the Swiss are, like most of Europe, ahead of us academically, maybe we should give this a try. Also, when did recess go away in US schools?!?! No one wonder we have an “obesity epidemic”–I’ m airing quoting that because I detest the phrase and I haven’t developed a better one yet–; we’re not even giving kids time to move and play in school. While I’m not that great at running and it’s a habit I just developed, I took walks all the time in undergrad and grad school. I know I think and manage my stress levels better when I get physical activity in. Surely, kids need that too.

Interesting New Yorker piece on diet drugs and why doctors don’t often prescribe them.

Interview with Orlando Jones about his character on Sleepy Hollow. I may now breathe a sigh of relief and not panic every time I think they’re going to kill him. I mean this is the same show that killed Clancy Brown’s police chief and John Cho’s Andy in the pilot episode. I don’t think anyone but Katrina is safe, and that’s because she’s in purgatory.

New York Mag has a list of the whisper campaigns against various Oscar contenders. The Daily Mail article on P.L. Travers in relation to Saving Mr. Banks is, uhm, damning.

World Cup 2014 Draw is today. Mexico is in Brazil’s group. They really can’t catch a break this year. I’ve got two comp students who are going to be unhappy about that situation. UPDATE: The US is in Group G with Germany, Ghana, and freaking PORTUGAL. (I have a deep seated loathing for the Portugal national team after England’s loss in a dirty, dirty game in the 2006 semifinals.) It’s not the worst thing, but it’s not the best grouping ever. It’s definitely the second group of death, right alongside the group with Spain and the Netherlands and Group D, England, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Italy. Why couldn’t we have gotten the Japan, Greece group? Or France’s amazing luck. Even Mexico only got stuck with Brazil. Sigh. Quarterfinals guys, quarterfinals.

Winter Weather Roundup

My university rescheduled today and Friday’s final exams ahead of the winter weather we’re getting–aka we Southerners don’t know what to do with this ice thing you speak of and no one has a large enough city budget to pre-de-ice roads. Oh, and as a campus with just under a 1000 students living on campus but with an enrollment of 7,000, most of those people are driving in from somewhere else, some over 30 miles away. There’s also the fact that FSM is in a valley, surrounded by two mountain-like ranges–the tail end of the Ozarks and the Ouachitas. Getting into town in ice is not exactly easy. All justifications aside–and at a certain point upper admin just had to be tired of fielding all the calls and emails from students wondering what they should do–we’ve essentially got study days. Admittedly, they’re a day after the first finals began, but I’m not complaining. I should be grading, but I took my snow day morning. Here’s some reading to get you through the ice/snowpocalypse. (We get snow tomorrow!)

Fascinating long article on extreme fundamentalist groups and homeschooling.

Interesting mediation on literacy, computer coding, and whether computer coding should be added to the K-12 curriculum. I learned to use Basic in high school, a system I’ve never used since. But I can see how learning html would be highly useful for content creation. I agree with the point that our literacy rates are abysmal and anytime away from reading is probably not a good use of time, but I also think we need students to learn how to make content as well as consume it online. Of course, I struggle to get them to even read basic news pieces online, forget about getting them to understand that a newspaper (print or digital) is made up of a variety of different kinds of stories. And this is on the college level.

New York Mag is moving to a fortnightly print format. Is this end of print journalism? Again? Or just heralding the next wave of digital content production? I’m still reading the Approval Matrix either way, and you should be too.

James Poniewozick’s Top ten list of TV Shows for 2013. The list is good, but the explanatory material before the list is the best. He really detests this part of the job, and the explanatory rationale for how the list gets made, including his responses to the usual complaints he gets are funny. My fav:

Aren’t top 10 lists just shameless trolling for readers? Sure! Also, they’re sort of a lie. Yes, this is, more or less, list of what I thought were the 10 best shows of the year. But I also think a list should be a document in itself–a statement, as a whole, of what I value in TV and what TV did best this year. So it’s, sort of, a list of the 10 best shows of the year and, sort of, a list of the 10 shows that represented the best in TV this year–which are related, but not exactly the same thing.

Such a smart response to our need for best of lists as a form of cultural accounting. But that’s a different post I’ll write after I do all the grading.

 

Emily Grasile, the Brain Scoop, and Women in STEM

Fantastic explanation of the kind of harassment and bullying that women who produce content online experience. Grasile is passionate, but measured, and she has figured out how to turn the comments into parody while also exposing more people to women with STEM YouTube channels. Click through to YouTube for a listing of women with these kinds of channels.

Commonplace: Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library”

“I am not exaggerating when I say that to a true collector the acquisition of an old book is its rebirth. This is the childlike element which in a collector mingles with the element of old age. For children can accomplish the renewal of existence in a hundred unfailing ways. Among children, collecting is only one process of renewal; other processes are the painting of objects, the cutting out of figures, the application of decals–the whole range of childlike modes of acquisition, from touching things to giving them names. To renew the old world–that is the collector’s deepest desire when he is driven to acquire new things, and that is why a collector of old books is closer to the wellsprings of collecting than the acquirer of luxury editions. How do books cross the threshold of a collection and become the property of a collector?”

Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library”