Resisting the Klansman in Chief

We the people of these United States of America have entrenched into the executive branch of our federal government a man who overtly represents the interests of the white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy. We have rooted our legislative and judiciary branches in the values of the party that this man represents. We have elected a man who has proven himself, through his actions and language, that he is unfit to serve the majority of our nation. He has slandered immigrants, called to ban any and all people who observe Islam from entering the country, told us he can do anything he wants to women because he’s a star, has been charged and fined for housing discrimination against black residents in his properties, been accused of sexual assault and rape by many women, evaded paying his taxes through loopholes, advocated jailing his political opponent, led the birther movement, and was endorsed by overt white supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement. We have elected a Klansman in Chief to sit in the Oval Office and while he’s not the first overt white supremacist to sit at that desk he is taking over the office from the first ever black president and that means something.

We are never going to have all of our problems addressed by a president. Issues are solved by the people and implemented by those we elect to represent us. But we’ve elected, I believe, a man who is not responsive to all of the people and the tone of the direction of our nation is set by the person who sits in the oval office. We are now in a state of active political resistance to the potential actions and policies that have been promised by this president-elect. We now need to organize in order to prevent him and his political majority from being able to roll back progress that has been made in this country.

We need to find community with people who care about the same things we do and with those who think differently. We need to understand what it is we envision for the future and what those who think differently from us envision. We need to find out how we can merge those visions into something that allows all of us to have what we need from this country. We need to merge this into collective liberation. We need people to understand how they’re connected to the #NoDAPL movement even if they aren’t from Standing Rock. We need to see how we’re connected to the sexism the president-elect spews. We need to see how we will all be impacted by his theoretical wall and closing the borders. We need to see how stop and frisk is harmful to all our communities. We need to recognize that the militarization of our police force is harmful to all our communities. We need to know that the humanity of trans folks is not up for debate. We need to have the conversations about how the very real history (and present) of our country still impacts the lives of people of color and women and LGBTQ folx and immigrants and indigenous people and poor people and the intersections therein. That oppressive history is alive in our institutions and culture and it needs to be addressed in a real, organized manner. We need to organize. We have to think beyond elections. More of us have to recognize that by expanding rights and protections and liberty to the most marginalized people we can make the US better for everyone.

Civic engagement has never just been about voting. More has always been required and more will always be required. Today is about finding a way to make sense of what is a shocking result for many people. Tomorrow is for finding ways to get engaged to uproot white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchy because it’s easier for us to see. And if it’s easier for us to see, we can find ways to dismantle it and build something new that represents us all. Tomorrow is for us to reconnect with our communities. Tomorrow we find pockets of our communities that hold us accountable to justice for everyone. Tomorrow we recommit to values that emphasize collective liberation and we hold our government (the executive, legislative, and judicial branches) accountable to those values. Tomorrow our work continues.

Whose shoulders do I stand on?

When I reflect on where I am as a person, as an educator, as an activist, and as a soon-to-be-parent I know that there are a lot of people who have helped me exist where I am currently. There are people who have taught me important concepts & skills, people who challenged me to approach things a little differently, people who expanded my consciousness and knowledge, people who were examples for how to succeed in ways that I admire. I wouldn’t be the person that I am without them.

We all have these people in our lives. Whether direct relationships or indirect. We have partners, friends, supervisors, mentors, parents, and neighbors who have influenced us positively. We have public figures, entertainers, educators, speakers, and authors who have challenged us and pushed us. I don’t think enough about who those people are and how they’ve influenced me and I don’t think often enough about how we should demonstrate gratitude to them.

I recently thought more about this when listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time. Period. One of the hosts, either Kevin Avery or W. Kamau Bell, mentioned in an episode from almost a year ago about the reason they were doing the podcast is because they want to be able to tell Denzel Washington (and other people) how much they admire him before something happens to him or he passes away. And I think we all need to do that more. Whether in a public manner (like a blog post) or through an email or gift or some personal gesture.

For me, this reflection and this demonstration of gratitude is personal so I won’t be shouting anyone out today. There are many people I feel grateful for being in my life. There are people who simply took the time to sit and have coffee or lunch with me. There are people who were supervisors and teachers and imparted so much. There are family and friends who challenge me to push my perspective beyond what I think I know. There are authors and entertainers and public figures who have written or spoken or acted in ways that I admire and helped me shift my own beliefs and actions toward their example. These are the people whose shoulders I stand on. These are the people without whom I wouldn’t be who I am.

One of the easiest things that I can do to show appreciation is send a message to those who have helped me through the years. Whether they are personal contacts or public figures, I can find a way to contact them to demonstrate gratitude. Another way is to live within their example and pass along the inspiration they’ve shared with me to my own sphere of influence. Then I can recognize that their influence is being passed along through me. I can recognize that the conversation that I may be having with a student or mentee or peer is inspired by their work and that our interbeing is stronger as a result of learning from them that I’m passing along to another.

I firmly believe that we all need to (myself included!) pass along gratitude to our inspiration both directly through tokens and messages of gratitude. But we also can embrace the concept of indirect gratitude through sharing their wisdom with someone else and spreading the word/knowledge of what we have gained so that others may also grow through their work.

Recording an Acoustic Guitar #impmooc

I’m enrolled in the Introduction to Music Production on coursera.org and the first week was all about sound, audio interfaces, and microphones. As part of my first week, my assignment is instructions for recording an acoustic guitar.

Back of audio interface
The 48v phantom power is just above the power cable on the bottom right of the interface.

The first step is going to be connecting the microphone to the audio interface. Before connecting the XLR cable to the condenser microphone, ensure that the 48v phantom power on the interface is turned off and the gain is turned all the way down to prevent clicking from running through your system. After the XLR cable is connected to the microphone then plug the other end into the audio interface and you can turn on the phantom power and adjust the gain.

Checking the audio levels
You can see the green light meter won’t be hitting the “red” in my recording.

At this point we’re nearly ready to record, but first you’re going to want to measure the loudest point in the recording to ensure that you aren’t going to get any distortion in the recording. Check the sound meter on the outside of the audio interface to ensure that you’re not hitting the peak or red.

 

 

Distance of guitar and microphone

Now that you’ve taken precautions to prevent distortion you can record your music. Since we’re using an omnidirectional condenser microphone you’re going to get more sound from the room than if we used a cardioid microphone. Keep this in mind to prevent other noise from getting captured in your recording. Moving your guitar closer or further away from the microphone is going to provide different sounds, but I prefer getting close to the microphone so that I’m only about 12-18 inches away from the microphone so that the microphone is capturing the acoustic guitar as directly as possible.

Congruence: Goals for 2013

After a moderate amount of thought about the word resolution, I’ve decided that I prefer the term goal to talk about what I want to accomplish here. I think that’s more appropriate for me because it’s action oriented and not necessarily dependent on a new year beginning. I’ll be posting a short series on what my new goals are and how I’m going to implement them. This is the last in the series and I’ll be reflecting on being more transparent and congruent this year.

To a certain extent, I think I keep various aspects of my life separate. There are deep values that I hold that I don’t discuss or that I put off to the side sometimes because I don’t want to go out on a limb with whoever (friends, family, co-workers, etc.) it might be. I want to be more transparent with some of those aspects. This is both obvious and not so obvious. Right now these blog posts get shared to my tumblr and my twitter account but not to Facebook, I haven’t fully unpacked why that is (or if I should even change that) but it’s an obvious example. It’s also not so surface level, during conversations it’s about what I let go and what I engage with. I need to find a balance between having conversations to challenge people and understanding when to let things go because it won’t be an effective conversation. I also want to make sure I’m not rampaging through conversations with my privilege and my unending opinions.

I’ve also been thinking about how I’m working toward my long term goals. Is my lack of congruence and transparency holding me back from working toward the longer term? I figure it probably is because it doesn’t feel like I’m being authentic all the time when I

I talk a lot about equity and social justice being value. I’m openly critical of a lot of things that I perceive as racist, sexist, or heterosexist but not always when the conversations need to happen with people I love and care about because the conversations are harder with those people. That congruence will be tougher but I think it’s important.

I am who I am, there is no need to separate who I am from certain people. Way easier to say than to do so we’ll see how I do with this goal.

Projects: Goals for 2013

After a moderate amount of thought about the word resolution, I’ve decided that I prefer the term goal to talk about what I want to accomplish here. I think that’s more appropriate for me because it’s action oriented and not necessarily dependent on a new year beginning. I’ll be posting a short series on what my new goals are and how I’m going to implement them. This post is about some projects that I’ve been thinking of and what I want to finish.

Work related:

I’ve had some ideas kicking around about some potential research and assessment projects. I want to do some research around patriarchal masculinity and helping people make meaning of how to change their view on masculinity to be less violent, aggressive, and controlling and how to challenge that in their everyday lives. It’s really about redefining feminism for a lot of people because the definition has been hijacked by conservative media that talk about how radical the movement is. (It has also hijacked radical to be a bad thing when in actually it means to get to the root of something or a departure from tradition; progressive).

I also want to do some work around what meaning students take away from going to a cultural competence or social justice workshop. How much does a student learn and what do participants take away from their experience? I want to explore what makes the session more effective for students. Can the students identify the issues in their real life after the program? How does the information stick and what have they retained after about a month?

As a part of my resident director position, I create a community development plan that I’d like to development an assessment method to go along with it so I can measure how effectively my plan is being implemented. The focal points for my plan should be measurable so I’m going to incorporate an assessment tool in my RAs programming so that it’s easy for them to collect assessment data from their programming. Part of that will be creating new posters based on my community development plan so that the residents are aware of what we’re working toward.

Co-Curricular:

I’ve continued to be interested in web design and projects since my bachelors degree in Information Technology and part of that has been just reading some articles on the web about design. But I want to do more. I recently talked to a friend about creating a portfolio site for him which I’m way behind on. So I’ll be getting more going on that project soon. Another piece of that I’d like to do is work to brand that design as a freelance company type of thing that I could do other projects with. Which would mean creating a design for that page too!

I’ve always been enthusiastic about music and I’d like to get back to being more active with that. I’ve got some old songs that I’ve written that I’d like to re-record and refresh. I also have been playing with new apps on my iPad (mostly from Korg – the new iPolysix app is great! I know I need to explore audiobus too which lets you link up different apps.) so I want to explore more electronic music textures and ideas too.

One of the perks of my job is getting tuition remission and I’d like to use that to explore either design or music technology/production to learn more about some of these interests. Eventually I want to explore doctorate programs that I’ll start in the next couple of years. The problem is in what? Higher ed? Social Justice Education?

That’s what I’ve got on the to-do list for 2013. What do you have left undone from last year that you’re finally going to work on?

Cooking adventures: Goals for 2013

After a moderate amount of thought about the word resolution, I’ve decided that I prefer the term goal to talk about what I want to accomplish here. I think that’s more appropriate for me because it’s action oriented and not necessarily dependent on a new year beginning. I’ll be posting a short series on what my new goals are and how I’m going to implement them. This part is about what I’m going to do for cooking.

After a moderate amount of thought about the word resolution, I’ve decided that I prefer the term goal to talk about what I want to accomplish here. I think that’s more appropriate for me because it’s action oriented and not necessarily dependent on a new year beginning. I’ll be posting a short series on what my new goals are and how I’m going to implement them. This part is about what I’m going to do for cooking.

Be more adventurous in cooking

Picture of my KitchenAid Mixer gift
My awesome gift from Laura

So for Christmas I got a KitchenAid stand mixer from Laura and I’m having a great time wanting to cook up some new things. Given this new addition to my kitchen arsenal, I want to learn to make a lot more stuff. I’ve got a few recipes in my regular repertoire but I want to expand those to include more things outside of my comfort zone. I’ve already been inspired to try out cooking some fresh southern style biscuits which turned out really well and tasted delicious with bacon and eggs. I also made some awesome pecan pie cupcakes. Croissants, pasta, sourdough baguettes, etc. I’ve already tackled some delicious pretzel bites that were for the New Years Eve party that I went to. I also made some pizza dough that wasn’t as successful but I’ll get better. I’ve also been looking up some new awesome recipes around the web and been pinning them on my pinterest account. I’m looking forward to attempting the baguettes and sourdough bread.

Other things I’d like to attempt are new meat techniques like aging my own steaks and buying whole tenderloins to cut into steaks. I also want to attempt some pouch cooking and cooking pocket pies. More braised meat, I’ve already made some pork shoulder a few times so now I want to try some barbacoa recipes. I’d like to make my own tortillas for taco nights etc. Trying new sauces. I’m looking forward to some great new cooking and recipes.

What about you? Are you trying out different cooking techniques or recipes? How are you deciding what to make?

Wellness: Goals for 2013

After a moderate amount of thought about the word resolution, I’ve decided that I prefer the term goal to talk about what I want to accomplish here. I think that’s more appropriate for me because it’s action oriented and not necessarily dependent on a new year beginning. I’ll be posting a short series on what my new goals are and how I’m going to implement them this is the first of the series about wellness.

a chalkboard with 2013 Goals written on it

After a moderate amount of thought about the word resolution, I’ve decided that I prefer the term goal to talk about what I want to accomplish here. I think that’s more appropriate for me because it’s action oriented and not necessarily dependent on a new year beginning. I’ll be posting a short series on what my new goals are and how I’m going to implement them.

Wellness

After a few small flings with running, going to the gym, and yoga last year, my overall feeling about my personal wellness is mediocre. With that in mind I want to have a better schedule about what I’m doing with my time. I know I’m busy with work and don’t always want to exercise in the evening after I leave the office. I’ve also been fairly terrible at getting up early because I stay awake later than I should and then I don’t want to get up because I haven’t slept enough.

Getting to one of my first action items, I want to get up between 7 and 7:30 AM so that I’ve got time for a run or yoga or the gym. Then I don’t feel pressure to work out after the day is over but if I feel like I need to squeeze in something else then I’ve got the option open. Part of this will be dropping 20-30 pounds this year so that I’m feeling better about what I look like (and also to save myself from buying bigger clothes, saving money!) I’d also like to do more yoga which will help me with my mindfulness and emotional wellbeing goals.

Next up, I want to run at least 150 miles this year. This is very attainable since it’s less than 3 miles per week which I can knock out in less than 45 minutes each week. Another running related goal is to bring my average time per mile down to less 10 minutes. Which means I’d like to run the Shamrock 8k at about 50 minutes (which reminds me to register for the Shamrock 8k!).

Part of both of the previous paragraphs have to deal with some kind of exercise, I’ve got a couple of new apps to help me with my goals and tracking what I’m doing. I joined Fitocracy yesterday to add some fun to my fitness tracking. I also downloaded the Gorilla Workout app for my iPhone and iPad to help with some calisthenic exercises for when I’m away from the gym or need to do something quick.

On to what I’m eating and drinking (which may conflict a little with one of my other goals…). I’d like to eat more balanced during from here on out. Less soda, more water. Staying hydrated is important to the rest of my wellness goals. Since I moved into a new apartment on campus, I’ve been a lot closer to the dining hall and which means that junk food has been more available to me (such as french fries and lots of dessert). So it’s time to resist those foods and eat more vegetables and non-fried stuff.

In addition to physical wellness, I’m going to work on my emotional wellbeing. To do this I’m going to think more about what I have control over and relieve my emotional investment in things I can’t change. Because if I can’t influence what’s happening then I need to think more about what I’m going to do in response rather than getting upset about what’s already done. I’d also like to journal more in order to help me think about what I’m doing and how it’s related to what my more long term goals are and to make sure I’m making meaning of my experiences.

That’s what I’ve got thought up for my wellness goals. Do any of these resonate with you? Are you doing anything similar for 2013?

My Favorite Music of 2012

We were lucky this year. We’ve been fortunate to receive music from great artists – some of which are new to the mainstream-sold-on-iTunes audience. But some are old pros who have been providing us with music for decades. These aren’t in any specific order as some are listed as I thought of them and others are listed as I went through my iTunes library to check out what I bought this year.

Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

Channel Orange cover

Frank Ocean released an album that, for me, is both sparse and lush. Channel Orange is both emotionally raw and beautiful. Frank Ocean lays bare his emotional experiences that provide a depth and emotional connection to the music. I’m really still taking this album in and I think I will be for a very long time, but this is definitely a top pick for me in 2012.

Blunderbuss by Jack White

Blunderbuss cover

There isn’t a lot I can say about Jack White that hasn’t already been said. A guy from Fun. described him as our generation’s Tom Waits which I think is fairly accurate (even though Tom Waits is still releasing great music – see last year’s Bad As Me). Jack White has an aesthetic. We are guaranteed that music will be impeccably produced but not overbearing. His explorations of heartbreak on this record help provide great lyrical content to a fantastic music.

El Camino by The Black Keys

El Camino cover The Black Keys did it again. This concise record that references their deep influences in classic rock and blues rocks hard and with a yearning that has been present in their music since Rubber Factory. They collaborated with Danger Mouse again and explored some different sonic areas just check out the synthesizers in Gold on the Ceiling to see what I mean.

Some Nights by Fun.

Some Nights Cover

Undoubtably helped out by Glee, Fun. established themselves as a genre blending rock band with massive melodic hooks that everyone wants to sing along to. They’re clearly influenced by Queen as they sweep through different movements within a single song. The whole album is catchy – except for It Gets Better, which is annoying and repetitive.

Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen

Wrecking Ball Cover

Bruce came back this year angry about the way working people have been treated by big banks and industry. He wrote about that anger and incorporated some new sonic experiments some from recent-ish records like the Pete Seeger Sessions and others that haven’t been used before (drum machines and -gasp- a rap verse). All in all it’s a solid album that updates Bruce’s magic formula with new tools.

Blak and Blu by Gary Clark Jr.

blak and blu cover

The newest bluesman on the block releases a full album of songs. I first learned about Gary Clark Jr. through his EP last year, The Bright Lights. Gary Clark Jr. blends old school approaches to playing blues guitar (including great, rich guitar tone) with some hip-hop and R&B influences to create something fresh and new.

 

An Omen by How to Destroy Angels

an omen cover

As I am a Trent Reznor fan, this was bound to make this list. But this EP has How to Destory Angels coming together as a band with a cohesive sound. The band blends sonic elements with creativity and some new melodies come from Mariqueen Maandig. Check out Ice Age to witness a different approach to acoustic elements and a great vocal melody.

Food And Liquor 2 by Lupe Fiasco

Food and Liquor 2 Album CoverDespite the drama around Lasers I still enjoyed it, but clearly Lupe Fiasco was just waiting to make this album. He’s woven his critical eye of society throughout the album and sounds ecstatic to be recording the music he wants to record. Around my Way is a catchy hip hop track with some old school influences and is critical of the treatment of the Lakota people in Pine Ridge in the first few lines.

Babel by Mumford and Sons

Babel Cover

Mumford and Sons did not switch up much here and it’s all still successful. Acoustic instruments and lush harmonies abound on a well written album that jumped out at me when I first listened to it.

 

Honorable Mentions

This means that I haven’t had a chance to listen to these albums yet, but most likely they’d be included in this list if I had gotten my musical purchasing together to buy them.

Uno!, Dos!, Tre! by Green Day
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar
Cruel Summer by GOOD Music
Shields by Grizzly Bear

I haven’t gotten the Green Day yet, but everything else has been purchased (thanks to an iTunes sale) and awaits my first listen.

Is this justice?

In April 2000, my dad was shot and killed. I’ve been through a lot of different phases related to this incident and I’ve obviously had a very different life because of it. The police caught the young men who shot my dad about a week after it happened and they went to prison. It was for a few years, the longest sentence was 30 years. As far as I know, the death penalty never entered into the conversation at the trial. In hindsight, I’m glad that it didn’t. At the time I was very conflicted and part of me believed that the death penalty was a means of serving justice and the another part of me believed that it was state sponsored murder.

Speaking in my own experiences and reflecting 11 years after my dad’s death, I don’t believe it would have made me feel any closure to know that the men involved were dead. I haven’t spoken to anyone else who has had a similar experience to mine to know what they would feel, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that I don’t think it provides many people with closure. I don’t think it provides society with closure. I believe that the death penalty is a relic of the old testament. At its core it is an eye for an eye policy. It is state sponsored murder.

I know there are varying beliefs related to the death penalty and its relevance. I’m simply presenting mine. In the wake of the uncertainty of Troy Davis’ execution I needed to make a decision. There are movements going on and activism is taking place. I want to be a part of that change because I don’t believe that murdering criminals does anything for our society.

American Civil Liberties Union

The Innocence Project

Marching Forward

This post is long overdue, but better late than never.

Over the last few months, I accepted a position at George Mason University and graduated with my M. Ed. in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University. It’s been an eventful couple of months than included a move, starting a new job, going to a wedding, and actively enjoying life.

As for my new position, I went into the on campus interview very positive about my brief interactions with people at The Placement Exchange back in March and I was excited when that positivity continued while interviewing for the position. I liked meeting everyone and there was an energy about the department and institution that attracted me. I got a call from the search committee chair the day after the interview with a verbal offer and I decided to accept the position.

Now, in the middle of training, I can still say that I’m proud of my decision and I’m happy that I’m working at George Mason University.

The Saturday following my interview was graduation (as well as closing for my residence hall). My grandparents, mom, and brother came down to help me celebrate the accomplishment. It also made me reflect on how much I have grown as a professional and a person throughout graduate school thanks to great peers, an awesome supervisor, and excellent professors. I’ll always be grateful for my experience at North Carolina State University. Thank you to everyone who was a part of my experience, we will not lose touch!