Reading, School, Time, Life, Etc.

Fellow "Fellow's" Book

Just finished reading David. B. Dillard-Wright’s book, Ark of the Possible for a book review I am doing.  I will not provide my actual review here, though I liked the book a lot (spoiler alert?).  Check out “Society & Animals” soon for the review if you are so inclined, though it requires a subscription to the journal or library access…  certainly a problem for the lay person interested in academic writing, which, obviously then, is not for lay people…  why do we do this exactly?

Anyway, this is more a matter of reading.  It took me a little while to get through the book, mostly because the beginning of a semester and teaching a whole new course have taken up a lot of time…  but, I often wonder, how much do people read as PhD students?  I have about 4 books I’m at least part of the way through at the moment (and admittedly I very rarely get to them), I read a few articles a week, I read everything for the course I’m teaching at some point during the week…  still, it doesn’t seem like nearly enough.  During the fellowship this summer I read a LOT, took a lot of careful reading notes, etc.  But this is difficult in my day-to-day life.  I wonder how much time to really devote just to reading rather than writing, transcribing, eating, digesting, walking the dog, breathing, etc.  I am curious about this.


Social Mediazzzzzzzzz…

So, I’ve become extremely leery of Facebook.  I cannot, however, (and to admit this frightens me) bring myself to actually leave it.  But I’ve come to hate it — mostly because it now seems completely invasive, all-encompassing, and yes, “unnecessary-update-happy”.  Is this the only way people will communicate with me now?  I don’t get e-mails really…  certainly none I would say are “substantial.”  Photo sharing (at least on my end) doesn’t happen on Facebook anymore, and I don’t play the games there, all I do is stalk around and re-post or share things that other people do…  but, I don’t go out and read things and find things on my own.  I find it increasingly annoying.  I want to leave.  Help.  Me.  Leeeeeave.

I have diversified my social media memberships, however.  I’m on tumblr.  I still have this blog (which I rarely update and few people read).  Also, our dog Penny, COMPLETELY unbeknownst to us, (ahem) has started a twitter account.  Check her out:  @MoneyPenny_TO is her ‘hook’.  (Hook?  Is she right when she calls it that??)  All this diversifying, splitting, fracturing is getting weird.  I feel more and more like there are different communities or memberships or parts of me (and us, obviously) spread throughout the web…  and for what benefit?  Social connection?  Hardly.  In fact, I feel there are very few people in my life right now who are ACTUALLY concerned about me and Sean and Penny, our families, etc.  It is certainly not because of Facebook that I know that…  it is because I actually physically stand next to these people and they listen!  Imagine!  Listening!  They also ask questions!  To think!

Social media has its uses…  the “Arab spring” and the current “Occupy Wall Street” movement are just two social movements that have been mobilized through social media.  Social media is also where the crowds that robbed a convenient store in the southern US (that happened a few months ago) mobilized, and it is where Jamey Rodemeyer experienced much of the bullying and hate speech that potentially contributed to him taking his own life occurred.  Social media sites are not neutral ‘benefits’ to social life…  they don’t just promote social behaviour…  in fact, its possible they really just promote anti-social behaviour.

Still, I’m more interested in the experience of social media.  How is it that we experience the vast array of locations we enter into each day, sometimes multiply (how many open tabs do you have above that have some social media site in them?  F.  I have two.)…

I’m gonna think more about this myself…  more to come, but this is just a spur-of-the-moment rant.  I needed to get it off my chest, because it actually bothers me.  In the meantime…  your thoughts?


hello, again, hello…

Hello again.  Still here.

Its been a busy couple months, I am teaching a new course in Environmental Ethics, I am trying to spend as much time reading and doing personal work (not course-related) as I can, which usually amounts to 2 days, and the start of the volleyball season is always busy busy.  Anyway, things are going well, I just haven’t had much time to update the blog.

I will say, teaching this environmental ethics course has been the most interesting experience of my “teaching” career thus far…  ethics, you say?  (Epistemology is also in the title of the course, not my choice…)…  sounds like a lot of philosophizin’ to me!  Welp, it is!  It is also a 3rd-year level course, taught within a department that is not philosophy, so these students do not have philosophical backgrounds (uh, I guess I was never a Philosophy major, either).  So, for most of them, it is their first course in “ethics” really.  They’re learning a lot about moral theory, ethics, moral psychology, and all the while, I’m trying to also keep it relevant in terms of environmental issues and environmental philosophy.  It is a tough challenge.

My dissertation work is puttering along, and I’ve been trying to get going in the ‘recruitment’ department.  I even made a fancy-shmancy research flyer/advertisement.  Check it out:

Research Ad

Anyway, life’s been busy.  Busy, and good, and also still a real challenge at times, given that I’m still obsessed with just being done and moving on to the next stage in my life.  I’ve recognized a severe need to return to meditation practice, because even though I get my mental anxiety out at the gym, I still need that breathing/focusing/centering work that meditation provides me in the other moments of my day/week.  More to come, sooner hopefully…  in the meantime, I am still linking to stuff from time to time on my tumblr site:

the next big thing

The Daily Planet

since returning home to toronto from connecticut via new york city, I’ve experienced life mostly as a matter of trying to work out yet another new routine of self-care, work, and socializing.  things are going quite well, but after a busy and lonely, though productive, 6 weeks away, and a rather surreal at times return to nyc with Sean (trying to see old friends, “sight-see,” and re-visit old haunts, while feeling very distant mentally and physically from the life I lived there, and even resentful at times), I find myself back in Toronto pondering what is next for me almost incessantly, trying to sort out how I am going to manage getting this PhD done sooner rather than later, and what it is that will come next in my life, in our life (Sean and me), and where we will end up.

obviously, this is part of being a PhD student…  however, I feel the pull to complete and move on now more than ever, almost to a fault.  I still have loads of interviews to both FIND and DO, let alone TRANSCRIBE, ANALYZE, and WRITE about…  so far, 1 child and 1 adult are not going to cut it.  this is obviously frustrating.  beyond that are the other piling responsibilities:  a new course I’m teaching, continuing responsibilities for my fellowship, and other things I’ve taken on (perhaps foolishly).

but I have dreams about scenarios constantly…  Sean and I taking Penny out West to BC sounds particularly beautiful at this point in my life, my parents are still pretty young, as are we, and we have no big ties to Sudbury/Buffalo yet either financially or in terms of caring for them.  we love Toronto, but aside from the wonderful friends we’ve made and perhaps the sports we play (perhaps, though those things are elsewhere also), I often feel little in the way of genuine “roots” here.  its also expensive, crowded, noisy, and kinda dirty here…  we’d like more space, room, trees, wildlife, land.

first things first.  who knows what is next, but I feel oddly impatient right now, something I will have to learn to temper down a bit yet.  there are many things standing in the way between now/here and the next big thing.

Working from Home, Redux

i caught this video posted on, one of my favourite and first read blogs…

good advice that i come and go with at different times.

since coming back from connecticut, i admit to having some difficulties with motivation and scheduling and distractions.  because of no dog, no real social life, and no partner, and because of expectations and deadlines and others working to help motivate me, i was able to make sure that every day, i got as much work done as i could and then got to the gym.  i have been hit or miss since coming home, which i allowed myself in the first few weeks and now is becoming a source of mid-afternoon frustration.  in an effort to stay positive, however, i’m still trying to figure out a good schedule now that i’m back and to keep daily to-do lists on a wipe board on my desk.  but it’s not always easy with a dog that moans every time you get up because she thinks its time for a walk, or when you’re easily distracted by negativity, facebook, and countless blogs.  i’m not even on twitter, that would just tip the scales a bit too much.

what do you do to motivate yourself when working from home?