At the end of February, I had fun presenting some of my research about climate ethics at conferences in Atlanta and in Chicago. And I was looking forward to writing a post about those conferences …
And then in early March, COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works. Surprise! I got busy adjusting to online teaching, trying to support my students in a really challenging time, not getting to swim regularly anymore, processing my heightened emotions regarding all sorts of vulnerable people, trying to figure out how best to use my resources in a changing world, and on and on and on.
Every so often, I would imagine myself coming up with something really great to post here. But what kind of “great” was even the right one to aim for? Something clever? Useful? Inspiring? Thought-provoking? Motivating? Cathartic? Darkly humorous? And if I could, for a moment, settle on one of those, how was I to meet that standard in such momentous times?
So I didn’t write here for a while, which is not so unusual for me. But this time, it was because I was letting the hope of perfection prevent me from taking any steps toward my goal. And given all the times I’ve advised students not to do that, I decided to just post something, to just get my first post of the coronavirus era over and done with. The new, replacement hope is that by posting this, I’ll get over the mental hurdle and pave the way for more posts in the future.
(Probably book reviews.)
Being a voter is important to me, and in fact, I can’t wait to vote in this fall’s election. Today I learned that I don’t have to wait as long as I thought! NPR put out a Complete Guide to Early & Absentee Voting on their website, and I learned that in Indiana, I can vote in person as early as October 12!
I’ve never voted early before, but since I’m volunteering to drive folks who need rides to the polls on Election Day, I’m thinking it might be good to vote early myself so that I’ve got the whole day available to help others who need help to get to their polling places.
If you need to know your state’s voter registration deadline, how to vote absentee in your state, or anything else like that, check out the guide at the link above to find what you need (and more).
There is nothing quite like the first day of school. I often wonder what it must be like for people who “outgrow” the academic calendar and don’t get to have the predictable cycle of the academic year anymore.
On this first day teaching at Ball State, I’m looking forward to settling in to the routines of the classroom and getting to know my students after a very a busy summer. I gave a couple of presentations, moved nearly a thousand miles, and spent a month in Seattle working in the beautiful Suzzallo library and seeing old friends (while, of course, eating in all my favorite restaurants there). And those are just a few of the bigger things! I also tried out a sensory deprivation tank, sampled a Culver’s concrete for the first time, and bought a shiny red bicycle.
To all the other students and teachers out there, merry new school year!
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) just released an important annual report about the economic status of our profession; this one debunks a number of common myths relating to compensation for faculty and the overall economics of higher education. I strongly recommend it!
This past Saturday, I was fortunate to be able to see (and hear!) Bill McKibben receive the 2014 Sarah Josepha Hale Award in Newport, NH. This award is given annually to distinguished writers, and the list of past winners is pretty amazing.
I really enjoyed hearing McKibben speak eloquently about his own love of the beautiful New England landscape and how it, combined with his work as a scientist, inspired him to begin doing the climate change activism that makes him such an important figure in these times. If you aren’t familiar with his work, I recommend that you check out 350.org.
When I drove up to the Dartmouth library to check out some books the next day, reflecting on his words helped me to appreciate the terrific fall color even more, and it encouraged me to renew my own commitment to environmental activism. So thanks to everyone who put together such a lovely event!