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Everything posted by Heidi

  1. I love you guys! Sunday was lovely with Vivian, mostly spent indoors before a trip to the pool. We finished watching Wednesday and then she wanted to watch SPIES in Disguise which is a much better film than I expected it to be. By the time she left, we were both wiped out, and I think I was asleep before 8. I ended up canceling everything for Monday and Tuesday evenings. I did meet with the co-chair for my committee on Tuesday afternoon and that was just great; I’m really looking forward to having her insights along the way. At this point, it looks like graduation will be in 2024, but don’t write it down in ink just yet. I’ve been thinking about restarting my public philosophy group, and about needing a smallish, dedicated space for that and for a handful of other philosophy work, including possibly restarting my radio interview series with local legislators and public policy makers. I was mulling that over on the drive to the co-op to pick up the last vegetable delivery of the season, and as I walked in, I saw the wonder of the local low-fi radio station at the checkout, the same guy who hosted the series of radio shows back when I started them in 2017. He and I talked a bit, and he is very enthusiastic about having the show on the air again. One of our biggest stumbling blocks was the post-interview production: our sound engineer was difficult to schedule (he’s retired) and we needed someone completely different to do the mixing and editing. So it was good to talk about what would be needed, and where we’re all going. I’m now thinking about what the editing and post-production would entail and how to find the right person for the job (I know nothing about production). While I was writing, the contracting agency called and wanted to know if I was okay with extending my contract another six months. I said yes, of course. The Universe loves me and wants me to be happy.
  2. Thank you! Of all the things that vanished in 2020, I miss the theatre and the cinema most. Week 1 roundup of The List: The Paper: nope, nothing yet Rest: first few days were super wonky, and then I seemed to reset at the end of the week. Definitely want to focus on keeping the reset as I go into next week, though I'm not sure yet what that will look like. Vivian: wow, so much Vivian We've spent six of the last fourteen days together, and it's been grand. Stuff & Things: I did a small bit of neatening that involved getting rid of some outdated this and that,mostly in the paperwork and books area. Financial Freedom: made a large extra payment on a debt. Speaking of Stuff & Things, Let's talk about books for a minute. I'm pretty dedicated to a digital library except for the writing notebooks, and it's a scary thing: books are my comfort and my identity and my touchstone. At one point (back in the late 90s) I had a panic attack while reducing my collection to "only the essentials." (Even though it was a reduction by two-thirds, I still had over a thousand books. Moving involved a Ryder truck just for the books and bookcases.) And of course the collection grew from there and has been cut again over time, sometimes thoughtfully, sometimes brutally. My collection in January 2020 was probably well over 4000 book titles (not including several hundred volumes each of comics--comics were probably close to a couple thousand if I'm being honest--, DVDs, music CDs, and VHS tapes). I now have 200-300 physical books, half of which are probably headed to donation. (I have a habit of choosing a dozen or so at a time, dropping them in my backpack, and distributing them in the Little Free Libraries that I pass.) It's like the burning of Alexandria but with ice.
  3. Vivian and I had a beautiful day together. My sleep schedule seems back on track, which is nice, and—surprising no one—the last two days of extended, hyper focused work meant that i woke up with the start of a migraine this morning. I didn’t hesitate to take maxalt, and I’m glad I have my head screwed on in the right direction about this. (Yes, it still occurs to me to wait, but I say thanks, we know better, and move on). I had cleaned up and was enjoying my second cup of tea when she arrived. We went downtown and poked around the science museum and the Starcade (an old school arcade, but this is the “star city of the south” so you can see what happened). Her favorite motorcycle racing game was out of commission (pause for a moment of silence) so we played a two-player adventure game and then she beat me at several rounds of air hockey. We had just enough time for a couple games of pinball before we headed across the street to the burger joint, where the grill cook was at the top of his game, the fries were crisp, golden perfection, and the root beer had just the right amount of snap before we scootered back to the loft and stowed our gear, grabbed our tickets and walked next door to the concert hall where we saw Beauty and the Beast. I tell you, I’m not a fan of musicals, generally, and I figured I’d sit through this play with more tolerance than anything, but they really knocked it out of the park. We were on the edge of our seats, laughing at the bar-room antics. Belle’s song about not wanting this provincial life, sung in a performance hall in our fairly provincial town was a little on the nose, and it was genuine and sharp, not schmaltzy or saccharine, and I knew we’d be in for a good show. Beast’s solo was out of this world aching, and Morrissey couldn’t have done it better. Gaston truly stole the show and I’m looking forward to seeing more from this actor. Just wow. We have tickets for The Nutcracker in two weeks, and it’s going to be a hard act to follow. The theatre in my little backwater seems to really be growing up, and thank you, Universe, because even more than a library, I need good theatre. We walked home talking about the show, and then black in the apartment we sat for ten minutes or so in silence, just enjoying being home and thinking back on the day. We watched a few minutes of Wednesday before we had to head down to the lobby, which was mostly just us talking instead of watching — about Wednesday and the situation between her and her roommate Enid and how friend arguments are actually the worst. She was pretty quiet on the walk to the parking lot. I think we’re both looking forward to picking up where we left off when we get together tomorrow morning. We’re also both pretty tired from the active day.
  4. Team work makes the dream work. Glad to have you, as ever. Thank you, and welcome back! No rest yet, but hopefully soon. Always glad. Always. Yesterday was a very long day, as Thursdays are, but went longer then usual because the code drop took so long. Then this morning I logged in at 7:30 (as usual) and only just now logged out. I’m tired. I have some weird cold-type thing, and all I want to do is crawl under the covers and go to sleep, which I might well do. Vivian comes tomorrow and Sunday, and I’m looking forward to it. Probably taking a hot bath and then hitting the sack. It was a good week. The long hours have added up, and this morning I paid a big chunk (for me) of a loan, one of four that i ended up taking out over the course of the pandemic back when i had no job and a ton of surprise expenses (I paid one off entirely earlier this year). I chose the one that has the lowest balance, which means I can see the end point on this one, and friends, this is starting to smell like freedom. [Watch this space, as being not only debt free but also lowering my regular monthly expenses is a major focus for 2023.] Slow Horses season two premiers tonight, and if I’m awake, I’ll be knitting while I watch. I still have both sleeves and the collar to knit of Vivian’s sweater, and a cowl to finish that I’m making for myself. Chances are pretty good that all this will have to wait until Monday, though. May you have peace this day.
  5. I loved these micro updates. Think I'm going to incorporate them into the end of the year mini, a time when less is more.
  6. What's on my list, you ask? Tidying up and tying up loose ends. Like a winter bear, I'm ensconced in my cave, barely going out, and resting long and often. I have a paper to finish for class, a ten-page thing that i don't particularly want to write, but I think I've figured out an approach, and that's a magical thing. There's a friend coming into town for the holidays and he wants to get together. I'm not really feeling it, even though we've been friends and have gotten together during Christmas most years up until the pandemic. I'll have to navigate this space with grace and gentleness. Visitations and celebration with Vivian are the main points along the way in the coming weeks. Phase Two of purging some stuff from the apartment. Rest. Lots of rest. Even pinball, acupuncture, and the gym are barely on my calendar right now, given my increased rest needs and the nasty germ-cocktail that is floating around. As the Cold Moon shines her light towards our little planet, I'm taking the opportunity to stay inside, eat warm and warming foods, and regather my energies.
  7. Last challenge was about embracing the stillness, and as we enter the final days of the year, the nights seem to be gobbling up the daylight, and the thin sunshine buffeted by wind, rain, and and a cold that crawls through the cracks. I have a list of things that need to be buttoned up before the end of the year. My focus this round is to go slowly, making time and space for what supports and sustains me. I've found that when I do this, and go gently, all the rest falls into place. Happy Solstice, friends.
  8. Wow, the end of the week really happened. Vivian and I had a great visit over the weekend, and it was nice to have four of five days in a row together. We switched to Wednesday and ended up watching all eight episodes over three days, and it was filled with great conversation. I am navigating some difficult spaces at work, but I feel like I'm navigating them well. This challenge ends just as it began, with me going slowly, honoring rest, and finding more space in the stillness.
  9. Tuesday at work the contentious coworker took it up to a whole new level. I am tired. Also Tuesday, I had a phone call with Jane and we talked about academic-y stuff. I really like these calls. I’m looking forward to working together and just sort of nerding out. Vivian came yesterday and today. Yesterday she stood on my bed to get to her loft and the slats of my bed fell. We fixed it together, and in the process I pulled the dickens out of my neck, but otherwise a good time was had by all. We started watching Andor, which I really like. We watched two episodes yesterday and then went to the pool for an hour, then downtown for pinball and pizza. I was wiped out afterwards, but happy. The neck injury didn’t do my head any favors, and I took a Maxalt by 4 yesterday, and then today as well. Today we watched an episode of Andor and then she wanted to watch Hercules, the Disney version. I hadn’t seen it, but i had already been warned that I would choke at how deeply they got the mythology wrong> The warning helped me just watch and go with it. I was secretly pleased when she said “but wait, that’s not who trained Hercules, Chiron is,” and “I didn’t think Hera was Hercules’ mother,” and “the Pegasii are not Zeus’ to command; they’re Poseidon’s” and “whatever, the Cyclopes are a people, not a single person, and not a Titan.” Who says kids never listen? I made spaghetti and meatballs for lunch today knowing that she is likely to have turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie at her dad’s. We read books for the last hour of today’s visit. I’m really enjoying Elizabeth Finch (I’m only 25 pages in, mind you). There’s a parallel between the present and intellectual bend of Elizabeth Finch and Lydia Tár, and I’m intrigued that I happened upon these two characters as a juxtaposition. I like it, and I’m interested to see where Elizabeth Finch goes in this novel (Lydia is a toxic person, but that’s got little to do with her particular intellectual insights. I’m hoping that EF isn’t toxic as well—do we think independent, reserved, self-possessed, perspicacious women are all toxic? That would be sad.)
  10. Whoa, you are so cool. And so great to offer help! I’d like to put together a few slides, like a standard PowerPoint and then click play and have a voiceover. Not me reading the slides, exactly, but me talking about the issues with the slides having key points or a meaningful quote. Today I felt a little better in the morning, but I really really didn’t want to get out of bed. I got up anyway. I put on clothes and cleaned out the refrigerator and bagged up the trash while the tea steeped, and then made my way downstairs with the trash. You see what I did there? I was already outside, because that’s where the dumpster is, and so it was nothing much at all to turn left towards the gym instead of right to go back inside. At the gym, I walked over t the track, thinking even if I did just a couple laps it would be worth it. I ended up doing three-quarters of a mile before leaving, and that’s all good. Downstairs in the locker room, the steam room had a sign that it was closed for repair. I nodded in sympathy as I walked by it and went into the sauna. This was the absolute best decision. As I got dressed afterwards, I felt human for the first time since Saturday morning. Back home, I poured tea and logged in. It was a good day, with nothing much on the list, and no fires broke out. Somewhere in all that happened over the weekend, I noticed that the Surgeon General had released a report calling for workplace adoption of five key components for health and wellbeing. This struck me as odd, even through my fog, and I had sent the link to my work address. This morning, I started to read through the report and was hit by a few things, as they relate to my team in particular. I ended up writing a blog post about it. I didn’t get into how weird it is that the Surgeon General of the United States of America is all but pleading with private corporations to stop killing their workers. Or that toxic workplace practices are a top-five national priority to health. I didn’t even get into all of the interesting, albeit sad, parallels between the US health system and the US education system, up to and including the oft-mentioned “US Health gap.” (Though I expect this will factor into my research in the coming months; the balkanization of healthcare is what led me to think about education as Balkanized. A lot of threads seem to be pointing here, as when I was searching scholarly articles for school choice this weekend and found that number 8 of the “Top Ten Questions Asked About School Choice” is Do private schools foster balkanization and intolerance? Friends, this was written by Brookings Institute think-tank folks back in 1999. (Bad-faith-based education: the myth of school choice is the topic of the project that I still haven’t done, mostly because I have resentments against the professor for not providing clear guidelines for the project, a situation that makes me break out in a cold sweat.) But I digress. By 4, I was very tired. I managed to finish the day, but I’m not going to pinball tonight. I have finished one move before committing to the next. The wisdom of the short dark days tells me the next move is no move—I might refill my teacup and watch the third episode of Leverage: Redemption. {“Is that taser bejeweled?”} I am grateful for previous-me who did the crockpot on Saturday and who put together and maintained the salad box in the fridge. I was able to eat today with almost no cooking/prep effort, and I think it made all the difference. (Also, it was yummy.) I am really enjoying having fewer things in my space, and having things that are supportive to my day-to-day wellbeing (I’m looking at you, canister of cranberries and Berkey water tower!) May you have peace this day, friends. And may there be love. Peterson, Paul E., Floyd Flake, and Isabel V. Sawhill. “Top Ten Questions Asked about School Choice.” Brookings Papers on Education Policy, no. 2 (1999): 371–418. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20067213.
  11. Thank you! Enjoy the soup—bonus, turmeric and black pepper help boost the immune system (especially if you toss in some diced garlic), so no need to wait to get sick. Let me know how it works for you, and stay warm, safe, and healthy.
  12. I am still in the two-sweatshirts-and-fuzzy-socks stage of whatever it is that I have, but i have to tell you: homeopathic remedies are amazing (no, they don’t work in the same way as over the counter meds (which give me migraines); you still have to rest and if you don’t, you’ll feel three times worse, BUT! If you do, they kick butt - I’ve been taking ColdCalm since Saturday morning, and it helps, and I’m grateful). Yesterday I mostly rested and ate. I would eat, watch five minutes of a show, sleep, and then repeat the whole processs. I tried to read at one point, but nope. Writing was definitely out. I’m definitely glad I didn’t try to entertain Vivian through all of this. This morning I had a little more bandwidth, so I made a batch of golden noodle soup, popped open the last paper assignment for the current class, and went over the notes for the dissertations I’m discussing. By the time I had rearranged and culled and suchlike, I more or less had the whole assignment completed, so I neatened it up and sent it in. After that, I rested, and then this evening I walked through the structure parts of the paper from last term that I still haven’t done because I’m being emotional about it. I have structure notes and the beginnings of an actual paper, with citations and suchlike. For me, the introduction is often the hardest. Once I have a good introduction, it feels like a thumbnail of the entire paper, and everything kind of flows from there. I don’t have the bandwidth for the flow part yet, but the structure and most of an intro is a really good halfway point. There’s a slide-video that is supposed to accompany the paper, once written. Does PowerPoint have voice over capacity? I’m weary of messing around with slide-video tech. Anyway, I closed the lid on the paper and made tea, assembled a salad (I have a “salad box” in the fridge, an acrylic bin — I put the greens in the middle (right now there’s chopped kale), and then the add-ons at either end (right now there’s fresh broccoli and chopped celery on one end, and shredded carrots on the other). I turn leftover bread into croutons and keep them in a canister (on the counter, not in the fridge salad box because they would get soggy ), and so I added some of those. Sometimes I add cranberries, almonds or walnuts (from small glass canisters on the counter), but I wasn’t feeling it tonight. I settled in under two blankets to watch the second episode of Leverage. When Parker told Elliot “Cartesian duality. Our senses are always deceiving us. Never assume.” I laughed so hard I nearly dropped my fork. Good times, y’all.
  13. Today, I woke up with a sore throat, congestion, and a fever. I took some medicine, but two hours later I still had a fever and was starting down the road with aches and chills. I thought sharing this with Vivian was problematic, and fortunately her dad and I were on the same page. He offered to swap weekends and I accepted. I asked to call and talk with her and he agreed. This, friends, is no small miracle. She and I talked for a few minutes then I went back to bed for a bit. There's a nasty flu going around, and I hope I don't have it. I've been out of my bubble for only one hour in the last 8 days (Wednesdays visit with Vivian at the therapist's office). Around noon, I made some soup for one -- the simplest version, using bone broth, egg noodles, turmeric and black pepper. It was just right. I set up a crockpot pot of chicken breast and cubed sweet potato while the noodles boiled, just in case sid food sounds appealing. If it doesn't, I'll probably do the soup-for-one again, possibly with the chicken cut into the soup. Cold Begone Soup for one When you've got what might be the flu, the last thing you want to do is stand around preparing elaborate soup. Of course, soup is exactly what you need. Furthermore, soup for one always seems a ridiculous statement, a nearly impossible undertaking. Yet here we are, and I'm happy to report that the little rice steamer earns it's keep once again. It's perfect for soup for one. If you're whole family are sick, feel free to upsize this from the little rice steamer to the regular (or even industrial) sized one. The simplest route is to put some chicken broth (bone or regular) in the steaming bowl and add noodles. If you add nothing else, I recommend turmeric powder and black pepper, especially if you have aches and chills. Other goodies to help hasten healing include fresh garlic, possibly a bit of sage (though it can take over the palate). For flavor, throw in some chopped celery (stalk or leaves) and a bit of carrot. Be sure there's enough liquid that the noodles are swimming. Cover and press "cook." When it all starts to boil, set a timer for ten minutes or so, depending on your noodles. Ladle the results directly into a bowl and serve -- golden noodle soup for one. Rest, drink water, and enjoy.
  14. Update: Three paragraphs in, and I think I'm hooked on Elizabeth Finch: She stood before us, without notes, books or nerves. The lectern was occupied by her handbag. She looked around, smiled, was still, and began. "You will have observed that the title of this course is 'Culture and Civilisation.' Do not be alarmed. I shall not be pelting you with pie charts. I shall not attempt to stuff you with facts as a goose is stuffed with corn; this would only lead to an engorged liver, which would be unhealthy. Next week I shall supply you with a reading list which is entirely optional; you will neither lose marks for ig- noring it, nor gain them by relentless study. I shall teach you as the adults you undoubtedly are. The best form of education, as the Greeks knew, is collaborative. But I am no Socrates and you are not a classroom of Platos, if that is the correct plural form. Nonetheless, we shall engage in dialogue. At the same time-and since you are no longer in primary school-I shall not dispense milksop encour- agement and bland approval. For some of you, I may well not be the best teacher, in the sense of the one most suited to your tem- perament and cast of mind. I mention this in advance to those for whom it will be the case. Naturally, I hope you will find the course interesting, and, indeed, fun. Rigorous fun, that is. The terms are not incompatible. And I shall expect rigour from you in return. Winging it will not suit. My name is Elizabeth Finch. Thank you." And she smiled again.
  15. And of course the restaurant is called The Athenian. I mean, it’s kind of a rule, right? It was delicious, and even so, one day I hope to enjoy a meal on a terrace in Athens, and not simply at The Athenian. I know, I know! I thought of you immediately! I have logged out. The release was successful, and there won’t be another one until after Thanksgiving, a thing for which to be truly grateful. I heard back from my (new) advisor, accepting the position enthusiastically. I’m very much looking forward to working together. His research is the intersection of a lot of threads that weave through my own research, and I very much enjoyed our conversation when I interviewed him recently. I thanked him, then crafted a reply to Eric. I thanked Eric for his recent availability and feedback, and said that given the unfortunate tension between us, I thought it was best if I find a different chair, and continue on with the other three committee members I’d already engaged. Though it was a simple email, there was a lot of emotional labor in it. By the way, I finished Ella Minnow Pea. I can’t for the life of me think why it comes so enormously recommended. I mean, it’s okay, but I was never really engaged by the story, the premise, or the characters. I think I’m getting too hard to please, possibly. Next up might be Elizabeth Finch, not because I’ve ever heard of Julian Barnes (the author) or because I know much of anything about the book. I only know that it centers around a friendship between two people who meet infrequently but regularly over a long time, and become the richest of companions. I like the notion. In theory I have the time-space to write up the final project for class tonight (the dissertation review), but I’m mentally and emotionally spent. Also, relocating always leaves me feeling wiped out, even when I’m glad to be here. I’ve always traveled well, but in the last two years, I think I’ve somehow run out of enthusiasm. Everything about traveling seems to be a heavy lift. I’ve literally lightened the weight of what I take with me. Even so, it leaves me tired. Maybe this is also part of that lockdown hangover that @Tanktimus the Encourager mentioned a few posts back. Perhaps it’s less a hangover and more a reshaping. In any event, I think I’ll leave studies aside and enjoy at least the first episode of Leverage. I’ve missed the crew. @Scaly Freak, I’m looking forward to hearing your take on the new season. May it be all we’ve hoped for.
  16. Self care is ordering a gyro (and fries) from your favorite Greek restaurant for delivery, timed just as you show up when relocating home after a dogsitting stint. Five stars. I'm home. I have really yummy food. I made a pot of tea and let it steep in my travel flask while I drove, and now it's in my favorite mug. And, because the universe loves me and wants me to be happy, three new episodes of Leverage: Redemption just dropped on Amazon Prime.
  17. Yes yes, this, exactly. The Davidic ethic and the idea of Championship undergird all of my thinking. These get a prominent place in the code of Chivalry, which is present in much of early modern European social thought up to and including the Enlightenment. The preudomme - the code of how to be a "good man" -- is the west's version of Virtues: 1. Loyalty. 2. Forbearance: self-control towards others. 3. Hardihood. 4. Generosity: not just a simple matter of giving away what one has, but "Largitas in a man caused him to set no store on greed or gifts, and to have nothing but contempt for bribes." 5. Benevolence. The Davidic ethic: It is the strongest quality of the preudomme - benevolence of the strong toward the weak. 6. Honor: honor is achieved by living up to the ideal of the preudomme and pursuing the qualities and behavior listed above. ( I tend to refer to this as integrity.) 7. Championship: everywhere and always be the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil. I believe that if public policy isn't upholding these tenants (especially the last 4), then it's not "public" policy; public policy should secure the public good, and politicians should be champions. Now, the preudomme came around a thousand years ago, in northern Europe, so "democracy" as a word wasn't really a thing and would have seemed weird if someone said it. But look no further than Arthur's round table, and you'll see the idea in action, presented as the best way to lead. If they can do it in a world lit only by fire, surely we can do it today.
  18. Well, in fact, there’s going to be lots more of this. I’m not going to leave politics out of it, not at all, and I’m looking forward to kind of skewering the federal government for not protecting and defending education as robustly as it protects and defends the borders. I did in fact talk with my my (now-former) advisor this afternoon. It went really badly for the better part of an hour, then fell off the rails entirely. I had a meeting scheduled (a while ago) with the director of grad studies (Jane, whom I’ve been talking with every week or so) that just so happened to get rescheduled to just after my talk with the (now-former) advisor. I switched from one zoom call to another, and we said hello, and i apologized for being a few minutes late and thanked her for waiting. I told her I had been in a call with Eric, and it had gotten to a difficult point, and I felt that leaving at exactly that time would have been bad manners and, worse, left things in a bad state. I took a breath and said “I think it’s time for us to talk about other options for an advisor.” She said she completely agreed, which was a huge relief, and she had names at the ready for me to choose from who she thought would be a good fit and who would understand the socio-political context of my research. Wow, what a relief. It was a good talk, overall, and we talked about a lot of everything else as well, including that her mom is an alumna of my undergraduate and first graduate college. How cool is that. Anyway, I logged off, sent a message to the top of my list professor to be my advisor, co-chair with a junior faculty who is just really exciting. I made tea and watched the first half of Tar, which is just great so far and was the perfect way to transition from the university shenanigans before heading out to see Vivian and her therapist. (I took a half-day off, given that yesterday’s work day ended up being thirteen hours long. Let’s not do these again; I was nearly brain dead this morning, but I did end up having an early morning spontaneous conversation with my boss, and we talked about a lot of different mythology types — i blame him! He’s the one who brought up the Iliad! And then referenced the Aeneid! We were fifteen minutes into that vs. the Celtic myths before I remembered i was at work and not, in fact, in a classroom environment. He kept with me the whole way, having his own random obscure references to Irish folk myths etc etc and man, it’s nice to have those conversations.) It was very nice to see Vivian. I’ll see her this weekend, and there’s plenty to do in between — I came out to the dog house early yesterday morning and will be here until tomorrow late afternoon. The weather turned chilly here, and i seemed to get chilled down to my bones. I didn’t warm up properly until about 7 p.m. yesterday, and then on the drive back from the appointment tonight, the chill set in again. I’m finally warm again, and looking forward to the other half of the movie (Cate Blanchett is riveting, really just sending this so far. I already liked her as an actress, but wow, this is a whole new level.) May you have peace this day, friends. And may there be justice in your lands.
  19. Oh wow, i just went off as if i were writing a journal entry as a response to my advisor. I didn’t mean it meanly, but we’ll see where this lands. I might be looking for a new advisor. Eric, Here’s the thing. We (as in Western culture) have been talking about “the just city” since Plato’s account of Socrates. And when we talk about “the just city,” we talk about education. I mean, we don’t even just give it a polite nod; Socrates spends a fair portion of The Republic discussing the curriculum (because, you know, you can’t go telling stories about the goåds, that’s dangerous, and it stirs up the wrong kinds of imagery; everyone’s a critic, but whatever). This country’s revolution was propelled by the understanding that democracy and revolution were impossible without the free spread of ideas; it’s why Ben Franklin convinced his buddies to put their treasured books on democratic ideals at a public house and created the first lending library in the history of ever. That was in 1731, and it took a two generations — 40 years—before the ideas had grown enough in the public conversation that throwing a bunch of tea into a harbor seemed not only rational, but compellingly responsible. We’ve been talking about the Just City for three thousand years, and this country in particular conceives of itself as exceptionally just, from John Winthrop to Eisenhower, our national narrative is one of “A city on a hill” so blessed with “prayse and glory that men shall say. . . , “the Lord make it like that of New England.” A beacon shining against tyranny, a new land “with liberty and justice for all.” We know what works to achieve good outcomes for students: low student teacher ratios in accessible, adequately funded schools. This, in fact, is what the private schools are selling and which parents buy without hesitation. If we know what works and aren’t doing it, it’s because we don’t want to. I don’t much care why we don’t want to; I’m a utilitarian, so I don’t think why we harm others through our (in)action has much weight. When I decide to have a chocolate bar, I know I’m not doing anyone any favors. I know that each cocoa bean is produced in horrible, inhumane, and at times inhuman conditions. But do I say no? No, I do not, not always. Because I don’t want to. Please do not expect me to simply overlook that the situation in United States educational policy is one of not knowing what works. We know. We just don’t care. Why don’t we have a bold federal program? Why didn’t George H. W. Bush, who decided to undertake securing better outcomes for students, launch a sweeping federal program the likes of which haden’t been seen since the New Deal? Because he didn’t want to. Please do not expect me to think that Bush, the head of the CIA, mentored by the head of the OSS, didn’t know what policies would make a difference or how to enact them. He knew. He didn’t care. We’re the United States of America. If we’re not doing something, it’s because we don’t want to. I think that the way we have progressively kicked the responsibility for meaningful educational policy further down the line since Brown — from states, to municipalities, to neighborhoods, to now local school boards devolving into fights over everything from masks to comic books — shows that the educational landscape is thoroughly Balkanized, divided into increasingly smaller, mutually hostile groups. I think this is a moral failure of political leadership; I think this is a threat to democracy; and I think it is bad for everyone. It’s a moral failure of political leadership in the most basic utilitarian analysis: to know that the action you undertake will create harm to others is only justified when not taking that action would create a sacrifice of equal or greater marginal utility. Truly, denying myself chocolate isn’t on par with forced child labor; denying myself a glass of wine isn’t comparable with enduring sexual assault. Claudia Card writes in The Atrocity Paradigm that callous disregard for the harm we do to others is the definition of evil. I don’t disagree. I believe providing a robust educational system is essential to fostering democracy, and that the lack of actively fostering democracy opens the door to courting an authoritarian and totalitarian state. See Dewey, and Socrates, and wow, so so many people. I believe that a well-educated society is one in which everyone is better off, not just the well educated. I believe that to diminish education in a community of any size or to let the educational institution decay is to actively diminish the scope of human wellbeing in those communities. I know that holding education as the cure for social ills carries with it a quiet trap of seeing individuals as responsible for their own mobility, but with that caveat, I also believe that education remains the single most powerful remedy and inoculation against human misery. It is the path by which communities thrive, not merely individuals. Public policy, especially educational policy, has the capacity to enrich lives. Therefore it should. So I sent that off nearly two hours ago, and haven’t had a response, but I didn’t expect one yet. In the meantime, I went through both dissertations and have enough notes that I can probably write the juxtaposed review tomorrow evening, which will be nice. I’m off to bed, y’all. Sleep well.
  20. I know right?! Thank you — this was just the right level of cheerful commiseration my soul needed! I’m reading a dissertation and making notes for the dissertation review, the last piece of work that I have for this particular class. If I have it in me to turn it in this week, it would do my spirit a world of good. Nothing is lost if I don’t, mind you, but gosh, it would be nice to have the deck cleared!
  21. What a long day. Tomorrow is going to be packed, with a phone appointment at noon and relocating to the dog house just before that. I have tickets to a concert tonight, but friends, i just don’t think I’m up for it. I also canceled the hotel for later in the week, which means I’m going to miss The Tempest, but it just can’t be helped. I can’t be driving out on Friday evening, watching a play, then driving back in the morning in time to meet Vivian. I just don’t have the bandwidth for that. The morning began well enough, but then around 10 the Contentious Coworker was once again in charge of a meeting and ran everyone into the ground over — I kid you not — paperwork. This is exactly what she did for so long and to such an extreme that daily team meetings were canceled and she didn’t have anything to do with our team for the last six weeks. Not gonna lie, it was kind of nice, and this morning I could feel my blood pressure going up. Friends, she went on for forty minutes, and when our absent boss (who usually leads these weekly meetings) rolled into the chat to say “what the hell aren’t you guys done yet?” she then decided to set a meeting with me (and apparently only me) to explain. Friends, I didn’t have questions and I’m not confused. I hate explanations. They’re presumptuous. Furthermore (lord, you know we’ve crossed into dangerous territory when I start up with the “furthermores”) furthermore, she set the meeting for an hour. What the heck? I have work to do. I accepted it, but as the universe is my witness, I’m going to write her and ask which part she thinks I’m confused about (she included a multi-level, bullet-pointed agenda, because of course she did). I went from upbeat and fine to deflated and surly within twenty minutes. I got my attitude back on track pretty easily, and went about the rest of the mountain of work for the day. Because I’m good at what I do, I like my job, and aside from the Contentious Coworker, I really like the people I work with. By five-thirty, my sense of team was re-established, I had a light heart, and I was worn out, but looking forward to the coming day. I logged out and packed a few things in my dogsitting suitcase (my spare Fitbit charger which somehow never made it in the “stuff I always pack” side of the suitcase, the water filter and the tea kit, my nightgown). It’s only Tuesday through Thursday, so not that long, and not really worth a big production for packing. I’ll toss the iPad, kindle, reading glasses, notebook, and laptop in the “other side” of the suitcase before I leave, and roll on out the door. After ten hours, my brain is pretty much mush. I received my advisor’s comments on my second draft of the research proposal and incorporated them and sent them back. Some of his comments, especially early on in the paper, seemed mean-spirited, and I don’t think I understand what he’s trying to communicate. “Who uses ‘crisis’ this way?” Instead of either ignoring it or being snippy back (I considered first the former, then of course the latter), I decided to simply answer him. “Well, apparently, I do. I’m uncertain of what you’re trying to convey, though, so help me out, please.” I’m going to go rest my eyes, which might mean I’m asleep by seven, just like yesterday, and if so, all to the good. May you have peace this day, Friends.
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