Category Archives: Musings

On love and learning

Warning: This post is much longer than usual. It’s the synthesis of current events and some things I’ve been working on internally for years.

Since my early days at Grinnell College, Sam Rebelsky has addressed me as “beloved colleague.” No, strike that: at first he called me “beloved junior colleague.” It was only after earning tenure that I became just “beloved colleague.”  Continue reading

Reflections on recording a conference presentation with PowerPoint narration

In the spirit of technological exchange as we liberal arts faculty learn to teach online, I’m writing to share and reflect on a presentation I prepared using the PowerPoint slide narration feature. I then exported the slides and recording as an MP4 to upload to YouTube.

Here’s a link to the 10-minute conference presentation: https://youtu.be/omqZBn19CV4

Continue reading

Reflections on five weeks of staying home

Yesterday was a good day. The weather was perfect: not too warm, cool, cloudy, or windy. My daughter and I took a walk in the park and splashed in our backyard pool (5’5″, inflatable). We talked with her babysitter on Google Meet. I spent a couple of hours clearing my email inbox and taking care of some paperwork, while my daughter played by herself in the morning and watched extra episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in the afternoon. I sat on the back patio during a long conversation with my closest colleague, and I took a walk during a shorter call with my longtime peer mentor. I wore a new pair of sandals, ordered online from the manufacturer at 50% off after a large retail order was cancelled. My Apple Watch says I got a full hour of exercise (though it also says I climbed 44 flights of stairs, which I know is not true). My husband picked up lunch from a taco truck and cooked Ottolenghi’s shakshuka for our dinner outside by the creek with a bottle of wine. My daughter’s bedtime was easy, and I had a little time to relax before bed.

This morning I woke early, took a shower, and started writing this before I heard the calls of “Mommy!” I’m about to publish as lunchtime approaches. Continue reading

Department chair’s response to Whitman’s move online

Yesterday, President Kathy Murray announced that Whitman will move to online learning for the remainder of the semester. Though it’s clearly the right decision, we are all disappointed as we revise our plans and expectations for the next several months.

My colleague John Stratton is serving as department chair this year while I am on sabbatical. John gave me permission to share his email to our students as a guest post here. I couldn’t have said it better myself. My next post will address the logistical plans we made at this morning’s department meeting (with appropriate social distancing!) Continue reading

Why computer scientists need to read literature

Yesterday, my beloved colleague Sharon Alker in English joined us for a CS Lunch discussion of how Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is relevant to computer scientists. In a nutshell, she argued that 1843 was a time of technological change in many ways like our own, and she had us closely read some short passages in that light.

But before we looked at A Christmas Carol, Sharon shared the following list with us. I have gained her permission to share that list with you, gentle readers. Continue reading