Sunday, September 3, 2017

Adventures in Australian fiction

I have been reading mostly Australian writers.
Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall - set in Spain but with an Australian protagonist - really terrific!   
Mrs Whitlam by Bruce Pascoe (Aboriginal, girl and horse) was ok but the writing wasn't that good.
Loved The Honey Forest by Hesba Brinsmead.
I read about half of The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay - it is funny.
Picture books:
Found Tales from the Gum Tree by May Gibbs sickeningly cutesy.
Poss in Boots by Lindsey Owen, ill. by Matteo Grilli, was funny, about a young possum who tap dances on the roof of a house of jazz musicians.
Our Island by Alison Lester, Elizabeth Honey, & the children of Gununa is great! The children did the artwork, using crayons and food dye.
Found the book about the Aboriginal cricket team in the 1800's illuminating.
Fox and Fine Feathers by Narelle Oliver was fantastic, gorgeous artwork.

I found The Flywheel by Erin Gough (lesbian) difficult and sad until the very end, when it came round right.
Liked A Little Fear by Patricia Wrightson and A Wisp of Smoke. Did not finish
Shadows of Time.
Tara June Winch's Swallow the Air (Aboriginal) was beautifully written but so very sad.
I felt that Hesba Brinsmead's Isle of the Sea Horse was boring, sort of an Aussie retelling of Swiss Family Robinson.

I just finished the compelling Vigil by Angela Slatter (urban myth, Brisbane setting) and have been thinking about it ever since.
Enjoyed Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood - loved it right up until the ending!
Tried to read Lara Fergus' My Sister Chaos (about a lesbian cartographer with OCD, obsessed with mapping her house, and her twin) but couldn't stand it.
Read Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven (Aboriginal, lesbian short stories); it too was beautifully written but sad.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sabbatical update

Since July 21, I've talked with more authors whose works I've read (Ian Stoodley, Elham Sayyad Abdi), been asked to showcase GVSU Libraries (that is, guest lecture in 2 different Information, a.k.a. library school, master's level courses), corresponded with chapter authors for the book, worked on my own chapter - especially creating a model for it, and went to another lecture by Ron Arkin (Georgia Tech) about "Lethal autonomous robots and the plight of the noncombatant."

Ron's work in robot ethics
is fascinating. He addressed: In war, what is the appropriate role of robotics technology? He wants the use of AI and robotics to reduce ethical infractions in military, especially noncombatant casualties, by giving robots A) the right of refusal, B) the ability to monitor and report others’ behavior, C) protocols which incorporate existing and relevant laws of war and the Geneva Convention. Robots should be used ALONGSIDE people, not replacing them. Robots can act conservatively, can make use of more sensors and process/integrate more data/info in a shorter amount of time, do not have emotions that might cloud judgment (e.g., soldiers executing wounded combatants), can independently and objectively monitor ethical behavior. Ron described "ethical architecture" and coding then declared that there is already proof of concept (i.e., robots have been proven capable and effective). If you want to read more, MeL has his book: Governing lethal behavior in autonomous robots

Work in AI (artificial intelligence) is going to affect us all very deeply in the near future. I watched a fascinating program about this last night, and the upshot was that our jobs in higher education will be to teach human students social skills and how to interact with technology (machine intelligence). This is why I am so passionate about the "relational" approach to information literacy - appreciating the different ways of understanding and experiencing learning includes how we relate to each other and relate to information - this is the future! Yes, we have to include behavioral skills too, along with the socio-cultural elements - it's a "both/and."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Toward sabbatical

I read an interesting novel mostly set on Mackinac Island: The Island of Doves by Kelly O'Connor McNees, about a woman who escapes an abusive situation and finds a new, supportive, loving family. It is based on historical people in the early 1800's.

We talked about what moving forward means in the Teaching Life Retreat. I have new ideas; I am embarking on scholarship; I am embarking upon an adventure! I would like to help the workplace create a culture of support, community, and open communication. I want to help colleagues truly practice inclusion, equity, and integrity. I would like to get (back, and forward) to the person who is a good listener, can see the big picture and any gaps, can draw out the feelings and needs of the speaker, can coach toward better teaching and learning by practicing the principles of "nonviolent communication" and (nonreligious) spiritual direction as well as peer coaching. I also want to practice art and music, to move toward realizing a vision in my photos and improving my painting. One person suggested that I look into the symphony's "Musical for Health Initiative" program to see if I could join to play my viola for people, when I come back -- maybe there is an opportunity for amateurs, volunteers.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art and vessel

What is it that I want to portray with art? Yousef Karsh showed people's souls through stillness in portraits, Henri Cartier-Bresson through the "decisive moment" in candid B&W photos. Eve Arnold used available low light and muted color in her outdoor photos. 

How do my experiences and influencers show up? Outdoor photos with available (often low) light. Trying to show how light falls or bounces. Stillness, except for the motion of water. Romantic. Pointillism.

I'm more serious than funny but have a sense of humor. I carry fear, anger, and resistance to authority. I love learning, nature, connection, reflecting.
Taking the photos gives me a kind of focus outside myself, as does manipulating them. What about my photos would/might move someone forward to new understanding? Patterns - repeated shapes or shadows, details of a flower. 

Being in-between: not one thing nor another but a third concept, upside-down and backwards (a.k.a. contrary) to most people. A solitary mystic who revels in contemplating and exploring the biggest ideas about the universe and how we fit into it. How the parts mirror and reveal the whole, how the whole has to be considered in individual decisions and actions and why it is so very necessary to consider the "other" or "othered": social justice, responsibility, compassion, bridges.

What are some ideas to explore? Chaos. How the physical items I have show who I am? Quaker history of Indian boarding schools; reconciliation--started a conversation about creating something like an “Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners” statement but am leaving it to season with time and to let elders discuss the idea.

I feel so distant from the book and my chapter. Maybe that's what my pictures show right now - that waiting emptiness. The paths without a center of focus - just the open path. Maybe that's all I can be right now - a vessel. An unoccupied bench, a reflection in the water.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kristin Hogan

The GVSU Library partnered with Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies to bring Kristen Hogan to campus - professor/librarian and author of The Feminist Bookstore Movement : Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability.

An interview with her about her book:

Chapters and an article:
We Collect, Organize, Preserve, and Provide Access, With Respect: Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Life in Libraries, in Beyond Article 19 : Libraries and Social and Cultural Rights, with Loriene Roy

Balancing Access to Knowledge and Respect for Cultural Knowledge: Librarian Advocacy with Indigenous Peoples’ Self-Determination in Access to Knowledge, in Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge

Women’s Studies in Feminist Bookstores: “All the Women’s Studies women would come in,”  Signs Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

My thoughts:
Hogan's writings about Indigenous peoples helped me think about access to sacred knowledge in a different way - that sometimes there are good reasons for limiting access to information or artifacts (e.g., to certain seasons of the year) or to certain population segments (e.g., women vs men, indigenous or non-indigenous).
Hogan refers to the Feminist Bookstore News, which we have in the Independent Voices database, so I looked up Kalamazoo Pandora and read the articles about River Ardz's bookstore, which I think was open 1981-1999. While I went there, it was infrequently, and I felt like I missed out on a lot of River's wisdom, until Amy reminded me that I should be gentle with myself about the past and living in Kalamazoo.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Birding 2017

9/2/17 Sherwood Arboretum, Queensland, AU, 7:00 AM - 9:35 AM
Protocol: Traveling, 1.2 kilometer(s). Comments: Cloudy to start but cleared to sunny weather. Of interest, a fox was seen drinking from the river bank on the opposite side to the pontoon & walkway.
38 species (+2 other taxa):

Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) 3
Australian Wood Duck 9
Pacific Black Duck 11
Mallard (Domestic type) 2
Hardhead 6
Australian Brushturkey 1
Australasian Grebe 4
Little Pied Cormorant 1
Little Black Cormorant 2
Australian White Ibis 16
Australasian Swamphen 4
Dusky Moorhen 30
Eurasian Coot 5
Masked Lapwing 1
White-headed Pigeon 1
Spotted Dove 3
Crested Pigeon 2
Laughing Kookaburra 2
Galah 1
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 4
Rainbow Lorikeet 30
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet 4
Superb Fairywren 3
Red-backed Fairywren 4
Noisy Miner 40
Brown Honeyeater 15
Blue-faced Honeyeater 8
Striated Pardalote 2
Grey Butcherbird 2
Australian Magpie 4
Pied Currawong 2
Olive-backed Oriole 1
Australasian Figbird 6
Willie Wagtail 2
Magpie-lark 4
Torresian Crow 4
Australian Reed Warbler 2
Tawny Grassbird 
Welcome Swallow 10

8/23/17 Brisbane City Gardens 11:30 a.m.
Hardhead ducks

8/13/17 Mt. Glorious, Rainforest Circuit (access at Maiala) in the south section of D'Aguilar National Park, 2 km, 1 hour at dusk.
Bell Miners (heard calls)
Eastern Whipbirds (heard calls)
Eastern Catbirds (heard calls - like a baby crying!)
Wompoo Fruit Doves (heard calls)
Pied Currawongs

AND saw a pademelon!

8/12/17 Greenwood Lakes, Forestdale, Queensland, AU Aug 12, 2017 10:40 AM - 1:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling, 2.6 kilometer(s). Comments: Fine and sunny with some high cloud
41 species:
Pacific Black Duck  2
Australasian Grebe  1
Little Pied Cormorant  1
Little Black Cormorant  5
Australasian Darter  4 (especially the female)
Great Egret  1
White-faced Heron  1
White-bellied Sea-Eagle  1

Australian Hobby  1 
Dusky Moorhen  2
Masked Lapwing  1
Spotted Dove  1
Bar-shouldered Dove  2
Fan-tailed Cuckoo  5 (call: trilling)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo  4
Rainbow Lorikeet  10
Red-backed Fairywren  2
Eastern Spinebill  3
Lewin's Honeyeater  8
Yellow-faced Honeyeater  8
Scarlet Honeyeater  20
Brown Honeyeater  15
Noisy Friarbird  8 (sounds like laughing)

Noisy Miner  10
Spotted Pardalote  1
Striated Pardalote  10
Pied Butcherbird  2
Australian Magpie  3
Pied Currawong  2
Black-faced Cuckooshrike  1
Golden Whistler  4
Rufous Whistler  1
Australasian Figbird  5
Grey Fantail  5
Magpie-lark  1     HC
Torresian Crow  12
Rose Robin  1
Eastern Yellow Robin  3
Welcome Swallow  2 (I didn't see these to identify)
Silvereye  6
(I didn't see these to identify)
Red-browed Finch  3

Across the lake, we saw a water dragon sitting on a rock. On the way home, a Willie Wagtail flew in front of the car.

8/10/17 Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, edge of QUT, QLD, AU 3:30-ish
Brahminy Kite !!!

8/6/17 Fairfield area (including Brisbane Corso), Queensland, AU 3:40 PM - 5:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling, 4.0 kilometer(s), Comments: Fine but overcast

Australian Wood Duck 8
Little Black Cormorant 1
Australasian Darter 1
Australian Pelican 2
Great Egret 1
Australian White Ibis 2
Straw-necked Ibis 1
Bush Stone-curlew 2
Masked Lapwing 2
Sacred Kingfisher 1
Little Corella 2
Rainbow Lorikeet 15
Noisy Miner 15
White-browed Scrubwren 1
Pied Butcherbird 2
Australian Magpie 2
Black-faced Cuckooshrike 1
Australasian Figbird 9
Magpie-lark 1
Torresian Crow 6
Welcome Swallow 3 (I didn't see these to identify)
Fairy/Tree Martin 4
Spotted Dove 2 HC (heard calls)
Pied Currawong  2 HC (heard calls)

7/28/17 68 Cronin St., Annerley
Grey Butcherbird

7/26/17 Brisbane / Annerley, QLD, Australia : Daily birds
Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Miners, Australian Magpies, Pied Butcherbirds, Grey Butcherbirds, Magpie-larks, Torresian Crows, Spotted Doves (aka turtle-doves), Crested Pigeons, Tree Martins

Heard: Willie Wagtail (typewriter-like sounds), Pied Currawong, Magpie-Larks (make bluejay-like sounds)

6/20/17 Blandford
Indigo bunting

5/17/17   Home
3 flying Green Herons

5/16/17   St. Joseph

5/14/17   Kalamazoo Nature Center; Blandford Nature Center, Home
  1. Rufous-sided Towhee pair, 
  2. Common Yellow-throated Warbler, 
  3. Catbirds, 
  4. Tree Swallows, 
  5. Pileated Woodpeckers, 
  6. Wood Thrush, 
  7. Black-billed Cuckoo, 
  8. Rose-breasted Grosbeak pair, 
  9. Red-winged Blackbirds, 
  10. Robins, 
  11. Chipping sparrow, 
  12. Goldfinch.
On the way home:
  1. Red-winged Hawk, 
  2. Turkey Vultures, 
  3. Herring Gull, 
  4. 2 Sandhill Cranes.
  1. 3 Baltimore Oriole males, 
  2. Chickadees (including a crestless juvenile), 
  3. Mourning Doves, 
  4. Canada Geese, 
  5. Cardinal, 
  6. Mallard Ducks, 
  7. Downy Woodpecker, 
  8. Crows, 
  9. Red-eyed Vireo
Home: Indigo Bunting!

5/12/17   Home, Blandford, corner of Leonard & 8th.
Phoebe; Catbirds, Red-eyed Vireo, pair of male Mallards; 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks(1 female, 2 males)

5/9/17   GVSU.
Chipping sparrow

5/7/17   Aman Park.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

5/5/17   Bear Creek Park, Houston.
Prothonotary warbler, Summer tanager, Wood duck family, Blue-headed vireo (female? no yellow),
Tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, Cardinals, Blue jays, Downy woodpeckers, Pileated woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Grackles (great- or boat-tailed), White-winged doves.
Red-eared slider turtle.

4/27/17   Houston.
Carolina chickadees, Cedar waxwings. 

4/24/17   Houston.
White-winged doves, mockingbirds, female Great-tailed Grackles. Heard: Carolina wrens, Swainson's thrush.

4/17   Aman Park.
Pileated woodpeckers 

4/10   GVSU.
Phoebe, Kinglet (couldn't see the crown color)

Eastern Kingbirds, phoebes

3 Sandhill cranes! 

A high 3-note call I couldn't identify - a small bird, high in the trees, maybe Brown Creepers?

2 Sandhill cranes!

Red-breasted nuthatches! White-breasted nuthatches, red-bellied woodpecker, chickadees, titmice, goldfinches, blue jays, cardinal