Remembering David

In his passing I have been asked by people who didn’t know David to explain who he was, but I don’t know how to talk about someone whose impact on my life was multiplicitous. Our relationship wasn’t of one variety or another; the experience was more like a jam session. We shared a wavelength. Simply put, David was someone who’s principals and guidance affected what I think about, and how I think and move about the world.

I’ve been writing a lot since I found out. For someone who doesn’t write often, the process has been very therapeutic. Maybe it’s ironic that I’m sharing some of my grief, but I think you should know why I am so sad, and why I will be grieving this loss for a very long time—for no other reason than to iterate the impact of a single person’s life. I think there are take-aways from that.

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What’s in a name?

Being told my name brands my identity inherently with feminine adjectives like:

pretty, fragile, delicate


Dishwashers – A Textual Analysis

Someone who has never used a dishwasher before would not immediately recognize the importance of the machine’s placement in a kitchen—near the sink, but not immediately perpendicular to an oven. It is a closed box commonly found to be approximately three feet tall and two feet deep, and requires access to plumbing and running water. It’s only “door” is one side of the box that detaches at the clasp of a latch. The door falls 90 degrees toward the ground on a hinge that positions the door perpendicular to its housing. Inside, two wire-frame racks sit with their wheels trapped on a track so that they can be pushed and pulled, horizontally, in and outside the dishwasher. The racks are wire-framed to ensure water and suds flow freely around objects during a “cycle” of sanitation and have been augmented with many small, stiff, upright wire prongs to guide the placement and distribution of dishes. When the racks are extended it is easier to see that in the bottom of the machine sits a large, heavy, plastic fan that whirls during a cycle to push water up and around dishes. Before “starting” a cycle, some variant of detergent must be manually added to a dispensary located inside the machine. The machine sanitizes dishes by heating water that is fed into the box via the plumbing, mixing the water with the detergent, and pushing the suds around the inside of the closed box with enough force to simultaneously strip food particles off of the dishes without breaking the dishes themselves.

The dishwasher in my house is black; it’s color and texture of the plastics and aluminum front coordinate with the refrigerator and oven. The inside is white, slightly discolored from years of use that expose the plastic to heat, chemicals, and—naturally—food particles. In the bottom-most rack sits a caddy for silverware. Many of the wire prongs are inexplicably bent in odd directions. Fixed to the door is a small housing the size of a credit card; it has a simple clasp that releases during a wash to deposit soap into the wash water—provide that you remember to fill it before starting the cycle. When the machine is running, its noises reverberate throughout the house. The sloshing of water running through it dominates the soundscape within a ten-foot radius. The machine is commanded by a modest panel on the outside of it, along the door’s front siding. After a load has been sanitized, a green light glows brightly on the panel to confirm its done duty.

In any other household, perhaps, the dishwasher is a sanitization tool. It performs human labor; it is a mindless automaton that augments everyday life in an effort to preserve water and time. The privilege of ownership comes at a price between $200 and $3,800, dish-loader not included. In my home the dishwasher is the most political object in the house. In the early days of our living agreement each house member vocalized the high value they place on a clean kitchen (dishes included). The house culture, consequently, reflects this in the rotation of biweekly chores that mediate communal spaces. My roommates and I share dish ware, and 3/4 of our collection dirties in day-to-day consumption. To ensure that dishes are always clean, two of the four chores in rotation deal with the dishwasher on a daily basis, either in the form of loading or unloading. A member’s diligence to these duties is tied to their relationships with other housemates—neglecting one’s duty to clean or unload dishes harbors a significant social penalty. The machine polices the individual’s duty to cleanup after oneself; it mediates the level of acceptable sanitation within the kitchen. When a house member neglects to move their dirty dishes into the machine, their action is perceived by others as rebellious to accepted norms and practices adopted by the community.

The dishwasher is by no means the only household tool used to mediate or control human behavior; it is but one that normalizes and standardizes notions of upper-middle class sanitation. The absence of a dishwasher within an American home reflects on the socio-economic class of the home’s inhabitants; the cheaper one’s dwellings, the less likely a dishwasher is part of the kitchen floor plan.

My partner and I are in the market for a new place to live in the coming year. We are making a point to eliminate from our pool of potential homes places that do not have a dishwasher. Perhaps this says more about our perception of an acceptable living standard than it does the real utility of an autonomous dish sanitizer.


When someone tells me they are tired:

 


All Night Long

Realizing that my workload requires an all-nighter:

Passing the 7am threshold:

The rest of the day:

 

 


When I think I have time for something other than homework or grading papers


Social Justice, Real Justice Conference

Waking up this morning:

Checking into the conference:

Getting my ticket to Cornel West’s Keynote speech:

In the meantime:

 

Follow me on Twitter today for my thoughts on the conference; I’ll be blogging for the Tale of Two Oregons project, too.


Gluten-Intolerant Life

Cutting out gluten to see if you feel better

Feeling better

Passing on free cake and cookies at every social function

Going to bars and brew houses

Realizing you’ll never drink good beer again


Juggling + Mentoring

Intentionally and unintentionally, I’ve done a lot of mentoring as of late. Time consuming, but immensely rewarding. A pattern of advice has emerged through the process; here’s one such exercise I’ve recommended several times this past month to help people with busy schedules maintain sanity and liberty within their own lives.

I call this the

Do I Have Time for X? Test

Complete this test whenever you are positioned to add something onto your already bursting plate of “shit-to-do:”

  1. Grab a pen & big piece of paper.  
  2. Find a secluded space for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Without any hesitation, start writing down all of the things that you have on your mind as they come to you—all of the things you know/think you have to do, all of the special events you need to attend, all of the obligations you’ve been saddled with. Do not pay attention to the order, just write them down as quickly as you can, with as much detail as you care to add in that moment. Write until you have to strain to think of things on your plate. In my experience, once you write down some semblance of “eating,” all the important stuff has been penned.
  4. Now, just soak in that list. Note that the really important things are the ones at the top, the things that you should probably care more about are in the middle, and try to find the neglected item near the middle or bottom that really should be at the top of the list. Pay attention to the fact that your personal well-being and health probably didn’t make the list.
  5. Now, think about that thing, X, that you were contemplating adding to this list. Is this thing more important than the first half of the list? If not, you probably shouldn’t do X.

That said:

Look what I edited recently! It was definitely something I didn’t have time for in the grand scheme of my list:


Advice

This afternoon someone emailed me with a commonly asked question:

Happy Monday! Bleh. Could you give me some advice? I am trying to put together an online portfolio/website to send to possible employers.
 
First I tried Tumblr, then it got weird. Then I looked up articles about what everyone else is using, and the top ones were WordPress, Pressfolios, Flavors, and About.me. Dunno if you are familiar with any of those besides WordPress, I just assume you are because you seem to be a journalism genius (I’m not brownnosing). If I do use WordPress, do I sign in through the University or just WordPress not-affiliated with UofO? ANYway, what’s the best way to go about compiling the shred of work that I have for people to see? Any tips? I’m trying to get an internship this summer so I just wanna impress all the head honchos out there. 

To which I replied:

I don’t bother with other CMS (content management systems) because working with wordpress serves 2 functions.
  1. It gives me a space that I can reasonably customize for $26/year
  2. Learning WordPress is a very valuable skill out in the real world. Many organizations use WordPress, and knowing how to navigate their CMS from day 1 is a huge bonus. Alternatively, many organizations don’t have a website (or a very good one), which means I can easily design a new, fancy, functional and friendly website for anyone in less than 6 hours with my knowledge of WordPress if I needed to—something I could bring up in an interview and not be lying about. Also a huge bonus, IMO. 
Honestly, though, other than the above reasons, I see no benefit from one CMS to another—just as long as what you have looks organized, is functional, and has your name on it, you should be good to go.
 
If you do decide to go WordPress, I do not recommend using blogs.uoregon.edu—you’ll have to migrate your site after you graduate, which is the biggest pain in the ass. WordPress.com is a good place to start. In the long term, and when you have more time, look into web hosting + WordPress.org—that’s the only way you’ll ever have an original site, but that kind of things is most definitely not important. Never forget that you’re not selling your website design skillz, you’re a storyteller. That’s what counts in your portfolio—your stories!

Hope this helps!