Just Fun

For me, the end of this summer is all about keeping calm, staying cool, enjoying this time off before it ends, and enjoying simple joys such as Google Readering and regular readering while ignoring anxiety-inducing feats such as cleaning my inbox. I have a lot of blog post drafts floating around in my head, but I just can’t get myself to sit down at the computer most days. Pardon my absence, and I hope you are enjoying yourself, too.

[Video via A Cup of Jo]

Objectified & 11th Hour

We went to an AIGA/IDSA screening of Objectified, Gary Hustwit’s film about industrial design. It was interesting in the “hey, that’s nice” kind of way to see behind-the-scenes prototyping of a select few iconic products in our world. And it was mildly revealing to hear the thought processes that went on behind the designs of a Mac, a vegetable peeler, a chair. But it sounds like much of our design discourse today (on blogs, in talks, at conferences, over coffee at the office) — lip service to our creative design processes, teamwork, concern about usability, thinking more sustainably…

It is that last point and the ending of the film that disappointed me the most. (This is a spoiler, but not much of one to be honest.) They mentioned sustainability near the end as one company started rethinking the design of the toothbrush as a redesign of the whole mouthcare industry and questioning the disposability of a common household product. But that segment ended before I knew whether the company was just doing a study or was seriously thinking of revolutionizing one (small) piece of our human/earth puzzle. And then the film ended on a note of “appreciate your old objects before buying new ones” as sort of its answer to sustainability.

But how can this satisfy an audience of designers? Whose jobs, lives, and livelihoods depend on creation, recreation, and solving tough problems?

Please watch this movie: The 11th Hour
Please watch this movie: The 11th Hour

While I left Objectified a little dazed, disappointed, and a bit defeated, I had the opposite reaction — energized, inspired, hopeful — to the ending of The 11th Hour, a movie that both reveals our planet’s (and our specie’s) dire predicament AND urges us to change our “darkest hour into our finest hour.” The 11th Hour ends on an uplifting call to action: we are humans, we are designers, we have the opportunity to change this world, to remake our lives. Every system in our world needs rethinking and redesigning in light of climate change, increasing global population, and limited resources. There is so much work to do, and we are the ones that GET TO DO IT. And yes, that especially includes every single one of us who calls him or herself a designer.

So I think we need to start changing that design discourse as well, even on a small level: including green into each and every project kick-off, injecting innovators into our coffee talk, and aiming that critical eye on our lives—both personal and professional.

Times Reader 2.0

The New York Times has launched their digital reader for subscribers for $3.45 a week. All the news delivered to your computer each morning, with updates throughout the day and videos while you’re connected to the internet. You can watch the Times Reader demo video here.

Times Reader
Times Reader

It’s a good idea, and I’m glad they’re making a jump to digital subscriptions. However, I’m surprised that the layout and the format look so much like the print edition. Without testing it out, I can’t say whether this is a pro or a con. (I did check out a Chekov book from the library because it was typeset in double columns, and I do it find the smaller type easier to read.) I might have to try this digital reader out if I can work the news back into my schedule…

One upside: there don’t seem to be any ads in the margins, as there would be in both online and print editions. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in there somewhere.

Thoughts?

June July Jumble Jubilee

Perplexed
Perplexed? Dazed? Frightened? Disbelieving?

I’ve felt like I looked in that photo more times than I care to admit this summer, but as we bid adieu to June, Father’s Day, and any semblance of a breeze, I thought an update was in order…even if it is a bit of a jumble. And as I mulled this post in my head, the phrase that kept jumping to mind was “having my ducks in a row.” On a sidenote, as an idiom, were these ducks in a row ready for the hunt or merely to facilitate street-crossing? Or were they of the rubber ducky variety to be lined up on bathtub’s edge? I’m still unsure, but you may rest assured that no animals will be harmed in the making of this post.

Quack
Quack

These ducks—my ducks—in no particular order:

  • Denver trip July 3 thru 7. Apparently highs in the 80s, scattered thunderstorms, and a lovely lady named Christina await my arrival.
  • ACC Psych 101 starts July 8th.
  • I’m tutoring reading/writing to adult learners at Literacy Austin/Lifeworks again. Subbing for a Wednesday morning ABE3 class, which I may not be able to continue in the fall. Am still waiting to meet with an ABE1 student on Monday evenings. Lots of fodder and rethinking and observation and experimenting to be had from all the reading I’ve been doing about passionate learners, reading/writing workshops, and “the having of wonderful ideas”.
  • My brother is moving to Austin this weekend. Check out GamesPlusBlog.com.
  • I’ll be training to volunteer with Austin Public Library’s Storytime Connection in July.
  • I’ll be volunteering (in some capacity) with Bookspring and their Shared Beginnings program which distributes 3 times a year free books to teenage parents and encourages literacy and language building with their babies.
  • UT in the fall to pursue my post-baccalaureate teacher certification fulltime.
  • Still reading copious amounts. Reminiscent of that summer after second grade when I practically lived at the local library. Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children, Robert L. Fried’s The Passionate Learner, Eleanor Duckworth’s The Having of Wonderful Ideas are the most recent ones to have me in a tizzy.

The questionable ducks include:

  • Wanting to mentor/tutor for AISD or CIS during the school year.
  • Moving at the end of August to be nearer campus and paying cheaper rent. (The good part about this is that I can’t go on a book-buying binge of all those books about teaching, learning, and education just quite yet.)
  • Getting a parttime job at some point to sustain things.
  • Wanting to audit a couple of sociology classes while I’m on campus anyway.

Of course, there is a voice in my head saying in robotic tones, “Danger, danger Will Robinson!” (even though I do not know the original reference.) It’s far too easy to line up too many ducks when I have been feeling guilty all summer for not doing much besides hiding from the 100+ degree weather and reading for fun.

(All the while worrying that as we escape inside our 78-degree air-conditioned home, we are not doing right by our planet and humanity in general. Climate change is always on the fringes of my days and thoughts. And I have yet to find a way to be engaged with our situation, our environment, and our science…but that is another post for another matter. It’s mixed up with Duckworth and Piaget right now, to be honest. There are far too many inklings and notions and glimpses of ideas…I’m afraid they’ll disappear without accounting; at the same time, premature posting would be doing them a disservice.)

I tend to swing from nothing-to-do to too-much-to-do. Do I already have too many ducks in my row..? I don’t know, but I have a good feeling they’ll all float.