3/30/19

Time Famine Is A Social Construct

For some reason, I'm into weird intangible crap like memory, one's existence, and time. When people say they are too busy or don't have the time, it always interests me how they spend it. And it always makes me reflect on how I'm spending mine. 

Trello has a really great blog and this post really captured my attention (especially the heading, which is the title of this post - Time Famine Is A Social Construct):
How To Create More Time: A Strategy For Finally Getting Ahead Of Your To-Do List
This post covers a lot of really great stuff, including:
  • The scientific reason why you constantly feel behind
  • The counterintuitive secret to attaining a sense of time affluence
  • Tactics for embracing more strategic thinking
  • Strategies for more productive focus time

2/10/19

Spotting Fake News

I recently saw Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward speak at Macomb Community College. It was really, really great. However, I was disappointed with the fact that they were not answering the audience questions directly, or very well. They dropped into stories a bunch and that was totally awesome.

The question that irked me the most that was asked and not answered: How can you tell if something is fake news?

The question is painfully relevant and these two titans of journalism and reporting just did not have an answer beyond "I don't know."

Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. "Call a librarian," was the suggestion from my pal that attended Bernstein/Woodward. We're trained to spot fake news and can help you out.
  2. Check where the source appears on this chart. The higher and more toward the center, the better quality and less bias you can expect.
  3. A couple quick tells are also looking at the "About" or "Contact" section. If neither section exists, that's a red flag. 
  4. No bylines - no deal. If you are reading stuff that doesn't have an author attributed to it, move along. Any dope, malicious person, talking head or other jerky can plop anything online, so if you can't track where it's coming from, it's probably junk.
  5. Memes aren't news. That's it. Do better.

2/9/19

UM Alumni Education Gateway

Journey through the Alumni Education Gateway
February 2019

Imagine being a U-M student all over again. Only this time, you can study whatever you want, online or in-person. You can listen to a podcast on the gig economy, watch a video about climate change, or take a class on web design. Welcome to the Alumni Education Gateway, where more than 3,000 pieces of content from U-M await your exploration. Developed with the goal of housing many of the digital resources of U-M’s schools and colleges in one place, the website allows alumni to find it all in one easy, curated digital location.

...

Though all the content has been selected specifically with U-M alumni in mind, the Alumni Education Gateway is open to all, so start by having a look around

1/30/19

Get you some Design Thinking

Much of my life, I've thought of everything in a linear way. Last year, my work had us attend a couple sessions with the Henry Ford Learning Institute. It was absolutely amazing. We learned about all kinds of design thinking methods and how people are at the center of this kind of thinking. My favorite part is that it reignited my passion for learning, and this helped me to rediscover learning. It also helped me understand myself a lot more through empathy work. You can learn more about design thinking here.

This video is from the HFLI:

1/27/19

Local News. Feelin' It.

You read that right - I like the local news. I think local reporters have an opportunity to get a clearer story than larger media outlets. Focusing on my city and state help me understand what's going on around me, who my neighbors are and where I might be able to help.

In addition to the local news and newspapers, I listen to these podcasts:

1/25/19

To a new year, new era and new ways of thinking

Today we talk about no limits in writing and listening.

This post should have happened at the end of the year, or maybe right at the beginning of the new one. It should have been robust, maybe broken up into multiple posts. Maybe I should have proofread more. Maybe I should have perfected every bit of the prose and appeased the grammar goons. Instead, I just freaking wrote it and forgot to publish it.

Yet that is not what my New Year intention was. One of my most important intentions this year was to write. And not just write, but to:
  • Write all the time and about every topic.
  • When I don't have a topic, come up with one, because this life is full of endless splendor and suffering and everything in between. 
  • Come up with words. Because "I can't even" and "I have no words" are not what writers are about. We have to articulate and HAVE THE WORDS.
  • Write everywhere; it will help with writing all the time. In the past, I wanted to make sure my work stuff was in my journal designated for work. My trivia notebook was strictly for trivia. My personal journal could never have notes on work. I stopped taking notes because I was being overwhelmed by pieces of paper. I didn't know where my digital notes where. Well, you know what, not writing things down is crap. I will find the notes. I will learn from them. I will lose the notes, and find them again. I will never, ever regret writing something down again, and I will never limit myself to where I write. 
Through this commitment to myself, that I will write come hell or high water, I discovered a way to support another resolution. I have a whole pile of those. Some resolutions are perennial - reading more, writing more, working out. This second specific one, though, it's special. And I think I'm doing okay. The second resolution is LISTENING.

Now that I have liberated my writing, I realize that writing is one of the ways I listen. Phew, having a lot of breakthroughs these last ten or so months. It's a lot to take in, but I feel better, stronger and more empowered every day.

11/10/18

Student Loan Forgiveness

I have worked for nonprofits pretty much all my life and will likely qualify for loan forgiveness through this Federal program. As I looked through the application and eligibility forms, it definitely seems complicated. And there's some pretty specific eligibility requirements, include a decade working full time for a 501(c)(3) and a good repayment history.

Still, it can be worth it for people who have debilitating debt. As with most things, I say apply and let somebody else shoot you down.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. 

7/28/18

Storytelling and Identity Cooking

Henry David Thoreau said that "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." My walk this morning certainly was. It's not only the fact I'm out and about, moving my feet, enjoying a perfect Michigan morning, but it's also what I'm listening to. Today, I tried out two new podcasts and wanted to share them with you.

Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Without a doubt, I subscribed to this podcast because of its name. The first episode I listened to today was episode #41 and it's called The Stories We Tell. As a fundraiser, my work is based on relationships and storytelling is an important part of that, so I'm always looking to hear stories from all walks of life. This particular episode had me tearing up for a number of reasons: it was a story of a daughter's relationship with her parents, how memory fails us, how stories change and family myths are born. However, when I really got emotional was when the father started talking about how important HIS father found education. In Laos, in the early 20th century, a man felt as passionate about educating his kid because he knew it was a way out of abject poverty. He was right. I learned a little bit about the "Secret War" that was happening concurrently with the Vietnam War in that part of the world. Finally, I was so delighted to hear that the matriarch of the family, after being on the podcast, wrote and sang a song about her family's experience.  So cool! It is a haunting song. I think this podcasts has some interesting surprises, so this is about as detailed as I get, but I highly recommend this podcast and this episode. I think Nora McInerny is great. She describes her podcast as "a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness, which is not an actual word." Definitely my jam.

To the Best of Our Knowledge
Closely following Terrible, Thanks for Asking, I took in my first episode of the Wisconsin Public Radio's To the Best of Our Knowledge. I browsed some of the episode topics and felt that there was quite a potpourri of knowledge to sift through. Since I am trying to expose myself to more random bits of knowledge lately, this was exactly what I sought in a podcast. It did not disappoint. The episode was In Search of "Real" Food. First, Simran Sethi talked all about chocolate and how there are actually 14 gene clusters of chocolate across the world. At first I didn't get her point, but by the end of the segment, I knew that it was to savor and truly appreciate the food that we love, like excellent chocolate. REAL chocolate. Then I discovered the author Michael Twitty, who wrote The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African-American Culinary History in the Old South. He was fascinating because his cooking is at the cross-section of African American, Jewish and gay culture. He is so connected to his ancestors through his cooking. It's amazing. This entire episode made me really think about how flavors tell stories.

So my walk this morning was great because I got to discover and listen to two new, excellent podcasts. I hope you get a chance to enjoy one of these. Never stop telling stories! And never stop listening to them.

7/18/18

Tracking 1:1 meetings with Trello

It's performance appraisal time at my place of work! I'm always looking for different ways to track work and stay on task. While I think I've got my own little jam going, I thought this 1-on-1 Meeting Agenda Trello Board was pretty neat and an interesting way to track work with teammates and people that report to you.


7/15/18

Literacy is a fundamental human right.

A couple of years ago, I got good and pissed reading the following headline:


Really, State of Michigan, really? Tell me more about your talent problem.

Sadly, we have fools at the federal judicial level (I'm looking at you, Judge Stephen Murphy III) who agree with the goons in Lansing. Here is the headline that got me fired up more recently, about the very same issue:


Um, what now?

Let's think about this. If we as Americans believe in unalienable rights like Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, than how does one expect to improve their life, be liberated from the bonds of ignorance and be happy without knowing how to read or write, pray tell?

Life
How can you be safe if you can't read? If you can't read street signs and you turn the wrong way? You can't read ingredients to avoid the one you're deathly allergic to? Dispute a billing error? How can you use the power of tools like books, the internet and, frankly, instructions, if you cannot read? How do you apply for jobs if you cannot read and write? How do you read stories to your children?

Liberty
How do you know the law, the rules of society? How do you know your rights without being able to read? How can you gain skills that get you a better job, liberating you from poverty, if you cannot read and write? How do you accurately do your taxes and make sure you are abiding by other laws to stay out jail? You know what the founding fathers did? They WROTE the Declaration of Independence.

Pursuit of Happiness
Ignorance is not bliss. Who the hell said that? Why would people proudly tout that they are ignorant? Why would anyone be proud to pass along that kind of attitude to their children? How do you read stories that you relate to? How do you select something new and delicious off the menu? When you ignore the world - complex issues, art, different cultures, politics, poetry, whatever - you do not give yourself the chance for a meaningful life. And when you can't read, you have talking heads feeding you those issues with their spin and their agenda. You don't need spin. You don't need to be part of other people's agenda. You have your own mind and you need your own voice.

So anyway, LITERACY IS A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT. There is nothing anyone can tell me to think otherwise. This is not a debatable issue for me. People can transform their lives and the lives of their families through reading and writing. I can see why people in power would not like that. As I think of this, I think of the activist Assata Shakur's quote:
“No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”
Read.

Write.

Let knowledge set you and your family free from whatever it is that has you in chains.

Related links: