Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for January 2006

Clearness Committee

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Recently a friend of mine has been trying to make a decision about where to live next year. As I’ve been thinking about her upcoming decision I have thought several times about the idea of her convening a “clearness committee.” As a southern Presbyterian I had never encountered the idea until I read about them in a book that my sister, Elizabeth, purchased for me last year by Parker Palmer called Let Your Life Speak, Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

In it Palmer faces the decision of whether or not to leave his current job and become the president of a small university. As a Quaker he convenes a “clearness committee” which is detailed in the link below to challenge him and help him consider different aspects of his decision. The basic gist of it is that you layout, before 5-6 trusted advisors chosen for their wisdom and diversity, the decision before you and ask them to convene for 2-3 hours. During this time no interruptions are allowed and they are only allowed to ask you questions to consider about your decision. No advice can be given.

Ever since I’ve read about it I’ve been fascinated by the practice as it seems to be a real, tangible and intentional way to bring community into the process of making important decisions.

You can read more about the practicals here.

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January 27, 2006 at 9:04 pm

Posted in General

Local News

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Four accidents in Chapel Hill over the last two days, three of them fatal, have left me with a sinking feeling this morning: one cyclist and three pedestrians. Though the cyclist was killed in a part of town I never bike in, he lived just up the street from us. Their deaths seem very near.

I’m being more careful about looking both ways.

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January 26, 2006 at 9:18 am

Posted in UNC

On Work, Part 1

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Lately I’ve been thinking about my conception of work. As I come closer to finishing the M.A. phase of the Ph.D program I am thinking about what work means to me and what it should mean. As I�ve pondered about this I�ve realized that my vision of what work is, is pretty poor.

My default view is that work is a black box. Into this black box you sacrifice time and energy; from it you get money, location, a title, and negative things (exhaustion, stress, etc.). Therefore the ideal job is one that minimizes the time input and negative outputs and maximizes your income. And from this perspective, being a professor looks like a good deal: four months of not teaching each year; a decent, if not great salary; a stable location, lots of status from society for what you do.

As those of you who are brighter than I am might notice, this leaves out the actual content of the job: whether or not it is accomplishes good, whether or not it is a good fit; whether or not I enjoy performing it. It precludes the concept that the work I do might embody or be an expression of the values I have.

(The above part is pretty coherent. Clicking on the link below will expose the reader to long musings about why I might have come to this viewpoint.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by furthermusings

January 25, 2006 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Reflections

Burning the Season Away

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burning a dried out tree

Makes you think about why we keep these things in our houses. Charity posted a couple of other shots that capture the color of the moment better. The light from there pyre was as bright as daylight. It was as impressive as the picture looks.

Only two of the trees torched as high as the picture above. Quite the incentive to make sure your tree is well watered eh?

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January 19, 2006 at 8:57 am

Posted in Pictures

Closing a Chapter in Another’s Book

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Today I’m sitting in the half-empty living room on N. St., the house I lived in for the first year I was in Chapel Hill. I was asked to let two movers in as they packaged up lamps, tables and chests to ship to the children of the owners, a couple in their 90s who live in a nearby assisted living home. I’ve spent much of the morning on the phone with one of the sons asking him technical questions about how to dismantle the home of his childhood.

As a toddler the owners babysat me here, growing up I visited this house whenever my family returned visit to Chapel Hill and when I moved to Chapel Hill two and a half years ago I lived here for just over a year. Since then I’ve slowly become more a part of their family, playing a mix of roles from visitor, gardener, and house sitter to hospital and nursing home visitor. In the process I have found a new friend in the son, who was my Dad’s best friend from college.

And today I helped to dismantle what is left of the independent lives of the parents: the first physical acknowledgement of what they have known since Emma broke her hip 5 years ago and of what have come to realize as I’ve seen them age during the last 30 months. . . they aren’t moving back to N. St.

I’m not sure what to say at this point as I look at the vacant dinning room, emptied of the table that he made and their family ate around for over 50 years.

They aren’t coming back. They won’t be independent again. Their health will continue to decline. And all of it breaks my heart as I sit in on this family and their transition. As I visited the husband in the hospital on Friday I realized that sunshine isn’t peaking around the corner for them and that life won’t “get better.”

Once the laundry is done I’ll drive over to see Emma and try to comfort her with news that I’ve seen her husband who broke his hip on Wednesday. Comforting the old is a new experience to me. It�s a hard experience but one I am profoundly grateful to have.

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January 16, 2006 at 1:07 pm

Posted in At the House

Computer Upgrades

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Perhaps everyone else knows about this but as I was waiting for my oil change I picked up Popular Science today and read about Microsoft’s Powertoys for the first time. While I’m still debating on whether the ClearType Tuner is an improvement , the Alt-Tab Replacement is which shows you pictures of the applications you have running when you alt-tab between them is a nice upgrade. It might be worth your time to check them out (especially for the “Power Calculator” but that might just be for math geeks like me.)

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January 6, 2006 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Geeky Blogs

One of the Benefits

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frieden.jpgOne of the benefits of being a graduate instructor is that we get free review copies of books. The Fall and Rise of Global Capitalism arrived in my mailbox today.

I read it last year in PDF format (which was terrible) but the book was fantastic and helped me greatly with my graduate studies. I wish I would have read it when I enrolled at UNC.

It’s not light reading but it is very readable. If your interested in understanding why we buy things from overseas and whether, why and how other people did before us, this is a good book. It provides a context and a economic perspective on the last 100 years.

“Frieden is wise enough to conclude this great history, not on any supremely confident note, but by asking a number of serious questions about our world economy as it lurches through the first decade of the twenty-first century. In consequence, the reader comes away from this book, not only impressed by its display of knowledge and judgment buy also somewhat disturbed by the prospects for the world of commerce, finance, and market s that lie ahead. And it is surely right for us to put down this book in a mood of deep reflection. It is the merit of Global Capitalism to have reminded us that our system of economic exchange comes with its perils as well as its manifold benefits.” — Paul Kennedy

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January 4, 2006 at 12:26 pm