Maxine Greene Quote

“We need to take into account the constant “induration” imposed by the media, the taken-for-granted conventions of comics and sitcoms and science fiction movies. (I know the exceptions; I know that E.T. is supposed to be, in some ways, a celebration of childhood and the imaginative life. But I also know about repetitions and routines, and about the tendency to structure experience in accord with what television provides. And I know about passivity, as you do, and the constrictions being imposed on individual fantasy life. It is still necessary to empower children to invent their own extraterrestrial creatures, to play with words and shapes in their own authentic ways, to learn what it is to summon up illusioned worlds.)”

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Second Year Burn Out?

There is a growing consensus among my PhD friends…we’re all burning out. We’re sick of having our lives run by homework. We want to do things that everyone else does with their evenings…read for fun, do laundry, go to sporting events, slip into bed a few hours earlier than normal.
Most of us are in at least halfway–far too much to consider dropping out. Not that we would. But finding out you’re not the only one sick of living this kind of life brings some type of comfort. I guess we’re all locked in the PhD biosphere, but finding out there are other people who want out makes me feel less guilty for the thoughts.

My Porch

Today, I tried to lessen my hatred for the amount of reading I am expected to do each week as part of this thing called a “Ph.D.” I decided I was going to take my reading outside. From my hole inside, it looked like it was a good day to give it a try.
I headed outside with a cold drink, a notebook, and the reading. I thought that I was going to be more productive: my plan was to leave the laptop and the new email alert sound inside. I probably was more productive overall, but I was severely distracted by the aesthetic experiences offered by my porch and what I could see beyond the walls. Flower boxes, herbs in wooden crates on the steps, and the sound of neighborhood kids mixed with the crickets’ song. I found myself dazing. And, the change of environment did me some good. Why don’t I do that more often?

Bags for Life?

Since I’ve started my PhD program I’ve gone through 2 laptop bags. I can’t tell you how hard it is to even find one that meets my requirements…and then having it only last a semester is very sad. So I decided to check into a brand that my friend M.E. recommended: Eagle Creek. I was sold when I found out that they have recently instituted a no-questions life time guarantee. Woohoo! At least this way I will be able to replace my bags for free if need be. Here’s my new pimped out laptop bag (with wheels and handle!)

Technology that has recently changed my life

I told a friend recently that there are three technology applications that I’ve been introduced to this year that have totally changed my life. And, they’re all free. Here they are, in no random order:

1. Zotero: www.zotero.org
is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself. Not only does it help manage and cite research sources…it also has a microsoft word plug-in that writes citations and bibliographies with the click of the mouse. Genius.

2. Google Applications, especially Docs and Google Calendar: docs.google.com, calendar.google.com.
Google docs allows the user to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms online. The files can be shared with another person and can be constructed collaboratively with both parties working on the document live. Because it is a web-based app, you can access it anywhere you have the internet. Calendar works the same way…you can collapse multiple calendars into one and manage the various steams of your life on one screen.

3. Del.icio.us: http://del.icio.us
is a social bookmarking site that helps you manage and share websites that you want to remember for later. You can tag the bookmarks and share with a network of people that you specify. I have a few brilliant friends, so every day when I click on “network” I can see the sites that they deem worth bookmarking.

Adding a del.icio.us widget

You might notice my new widget on the right, showing you everything I’ve deemed worthy of bookmarking. I couldn’t find a widget that did everything that I wanted it to do. This will have to suffice.

Maxine Greene Overload

I’m reading “Variations on a Blue Guitar” by Maxine Greene in addition to the assigned readings for my aesthetics class. I’m on overload. So many things to ponder, so little time.

Politics Shmolitics

I’m not sure exactly what I believe about the role of the government. I haven’t worked that out yet. What the U.S. government is currently doing doesn’t seem to be working. I am interested in change, but I’m not interested in “Yes we can” change. I’m interested in less government. I think it used to be that less government meant you were a Republican. However, the Republicans today are largely the ones making abortion and gay marriage illegal. In doing so, they are promoting “big” government.

Very often political views in our country are thought of in a linear way. There are those on the left, those on the right, and those in between. I always thought I was in between.

I have a new theory. What if it’s more circular? Could it be true that the extreme conservatives and extreme liberals have more similarities than they care to admit? I think that if I had to place myself somewhere, I’d be outside the circle. Currently, I don’t think that the government should be in charge of practically anything. Do I care about social justice? Yes. Do I care about education? Very much. Do I have an opinion about gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and our military strategy? Yes. However, I don’t think that all of these are things that I want my government to have control of.

I believe we should take care of the poor. I’m just not sure if you should do so through mandatory taxation. Every time we go to a wedding we hear, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Maybe we forget what this means. I think a whole bunch of laziness on the part of the Church has allowed for the government in the U.S. to become bigger than it should be. And now, it appears, it’s not going back.