Senior Portraits




This was my first real experience with doing senior pictures and I had a BLAST!!! I think Shea & I were both sort of nervous going into it but we laughed through out the whole photoshoot and honestly came up with poses & places as we went. This shoot was actually a spur of the moment idea. I posted on Facebook that I wanted to take pictures of someone on campus and she was the first to comment; so here we are. I met Shea in school doing OU Nightly together and this is her victory lap year. She’s never had real senior pictures done.. not even in high school. I feel honored to do them for her. She’s not only gorgeous but she’s SO fun to hangout with. Anyone who gets to really know Shea for who she is.. knows this about her. She has big plans for her future in Broadcast Journalism & I can’t wait to see where she ends up! Also can’t wait to shoot round two of pictures once she gets her cap & gown. 

XO , Harlee

Thanksgiving Break Edition

I am posting these announcements on Friday, November 17. It is now Thanksgiving Break in this class: enjoy your week off! Week 14 will start on Monday, November 27.

and safe travels to those of you on the road!

When you have more than what you need,
build a longer table, not a higher fence.

Class Procedures and Reminders

Project Stack. If you turned in a Week 12 assignment on time, you should have comments back from me now; anything turned in during the grace period on Monday and later during the week is in the stack. Next Friday (November 24), I will be spending a day at work to reply to assignments in the stack, working through them in the order they were turned in. While you are waiting on comments back from me about your Project assignment, you can check the stack to make sure I received your email. I'll try to update the stack periodically during the break.

Finishing the class. I'm guessing some of you will want to finish up the class during the break, which is great! As soon as you reach the points for the grade you want, you are done with the class. There is more information about how that works here: Class Progress. All the assignments for Week 13, Week 14, and Week 15 are available in Canvas for those of you who want to take the break to work ahead. There is no need to wait: go, go, go! If you can finish up this class now, that will give you more time to focus on finals and end-of-semester projects in your other classes.

My schedule. I'll be traveling for part of the break, with limited Internet access on those travel days. If you have a question, send me an email, and I'll reply when I am back online again. If it's something that urgently needs a reply, put "important" in the subject line to help make sure I see it.

Past announcements. If you are looking for announcements to browse through for the Backup/Review extra credit, you can browse Week 13, Week 12, Week 11, and Week 10 just by clicking on those links.

The following items are for Thanks-Giving and gratitude:

Being Grateful. You might enjoy this article from the New York Times: Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier by Arthur C. Brooks: This Thanksgiving, don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Rebel against the emotional “authenticity” that holds you back from your bliss. 

And here are some videos about gratitude:

The Amazing Effects of Gratitude from PBS Studios.

Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg, featuring the words of Brother David Steindl-Rast.

And here is Brother David Steindl-Rast's TED talk: Want to be happy? Be grateful.

And since Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, I wanted to include this beautiful video by Maati Baani in honor of India's farmers, and of farmers everywhere!

Check out the Twitter stream for information and fun stuff during the day, or click here for past announcements.

The Limp

Grief is the price we pay for love.

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest things in the world. It leaves you with this empty space and a dull ache in your heart that won’t relent. Little things bring back the memories of the person with a painful clarity. Loss and grief are some of the big factors that brought me to my breaking point.

Prior to my stay at The Center I lost one of my grandfathers, and it was one of the most painful experiences I have ever had. It is still hard, and earlier this year I lost another grandpa. Two of the most important and influential men in my life…just gone. It is loss that can shake our entire existence, and make us question everything. Coming back from loss, finding a way to navigate the grief—that is one of the most difficult things to do. In one of my classes at The Center we talked about death, loss, grieving, and everything that comes with it. During one of our sessions, France provided us with a poem by Anne Lamott. I still hold this poem near to my heart—because it makes even the hardest days, a little bit easier.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

-Anne Lamott

We can never fully recover from losing someone we hold dear. That’s just not how love works. Loss leaves us with a hole that can never be filled, but it doesn’t mean we cannot continue to live and love life.

There is not a single day that goes by that I do not feel the pain and the loss of losing my Papas. I will never not miss the feel of Papa Fred’s moustache on my forehead when he would kiss me goodbye. I will never not miss the way Papa Mike could ALWAYS find a rhyme. But I still live. I still write. I still work and make friends and fall in love and try my very best. I still dance.

The people we love wouldn’t want us to stop living because we lose them. They wouldn’t want us to give up on joy. They would want us to be happy, to find a way to persevere, and they would want us to dance. Whatever “dancing” may be in your life, they would want you to find a way to keep living and loving life because that is what love is. Wanting the best for the people we care about. So, honor the memory of the beautiful souls we have lost along the way, and dance with the limp. I promise they will be dancing right beside you.



The European Union’s Digital Market

A few weeks ago I attended a lecture by European Union diplomat Andrea Glorioso. Glorioso specializes in the EU’s online market.

When he began explaining EU member states’ fears about the security of online purchasing, my ears perked up. Glorioso said that somewhere around 70% of the European Union’s commercial transactions are now online. Three problems have arisen from this, each of them important for the European Union to consider when improving their digital economy and its participants.

First, not all EU citizens have high-speed internet access or even the means of accessing the internet. Thus, they cannot partake in the growing industry that is online shopping. Glorioso said that many retailers are emphasizing their online presence by providing discounts and incentives that only online shoppers can see.

Second, Glorioso said that online retailers have the technological means of seeing shoppers’ location and purchasing history. This has affected the marketing tactics and pricing that retailers deploy. For instance, if an Italian or German shopper is browsing a French online store, the French retailers might have implemented code that would increase the prices of items. Thus, the Italian or German shopper pays more.

Third, shoppers fear the risks of putting their payment and personal information into online forms. The European Union’s online market is still improving its security, so shoppers’ hesitancy is warranted.

Neustadt Festival

La semana pasada tuve el placer de asistir a una conferencia de autores que formaron parte del jurado del festival Neustadt este año. Decidí venir principalmente porque me enteré de que uno de mis autores favoritos, Zia Haider Rahman, iba a leer una parte de su primera novela, In the Light of What We Know, una novela de trata de tantas cosas – el amor, la traición, la guerra, la historia, las matématicas, y los límites de nuestros conocimientos – que me encantó cada de las tres veces que la leí. Sin embargo, me gustaron las lecturas de todos los autores en el jurado. Encontré las historias contadas por Adnan Mahmutovic especialmente graciosos aunque eran llenas de la tristeza melancólica de todo refugiado, pero el conjunto de las lecturas fue magnífico. La lectura de Achy Obejas fue inquietante y un poco confusa – no sé si entendí bien el contexto de la historia – pero su lenguaje era sobresaliente y es obvio que es una escritora eminentemente talentosa. Aunque fue la lectura de Zia Haider Rahman que me gustó más (la grabé en secreto para poder escucharla de nuevo más tarde), disfruté de cada lectura y autor. Había un grupo muy diverso de autores – una  india-estadounidense, una  cubana-estadounidense, un británico-bangladesí, un bosnio-sueco, y una rusa de la minoridad musulmana de ese país. Esta diversidad enriqueció el evento, en mi opinión, y pude conocer las obras de cuatro autores cuyos nombres nunca había escuchado antes. Ojalá que tenga la oportunidad de explorar más de sus obras en el futuro.

Reading Notes: Robin Hood (A)

  •  I’ve always seen Robin Hood portrayed as a great guy, but here he kind of isn’t. It might be interesting to write a story that explains why he became a good guy, or a story where he really is a villain.
  • Does Robin Hood adopt every person that wanders into Sherwood?
  • I wonder what Allen a Dale’s bride was thinking as all this happened. Or how she felt about moving to Sherwood
  • I like that Robin comes across as more of a trickster in these stories. Trickster tales are some of my favorites!

Bibliography: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads collected by Francis James Child.

Image: Robin Hood and Little John by Louis Rhead. Source: Wikimedia

Does Fracking Pose Unexpected Hazards?

The layout of a typical fracking well.

Figure 1. Shale Gas Extraction. A diagram representing the layout of a typical fracking well. Taken from a BBC article.[2]


In August of 2017, central Oklahoma experienced 7 earthquakes within a span of a little over 28 hours[1]. This may be surprising to some, as Oklahoma has not historically been known for its extensive seismic activity. So, why is such a common occurrence? There may be a single practice to blame. The increased usage of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to harvest natural gas from Oklahoma shale is potentially having detrimental effects on the state’s environment. Because of this, it is imperative for citizens to understand what fracking is and how it is affecting, and could potentially affect, the natural world around us.

Hydraulic fracturing is a relatively new technology. As human demand for fossil fuels continue to grow, engineers have had to innovate new techniques of retrieving fuel from increasingly harder to reach and shrinking deposits deep within the Earth’s crust. Fracking begins with the vertical drilling of a well that extends below the water table, into the shale layer. Once the well is within the shale layer it is drilled horizontally; this is shown in Figure 1. A blend of sand, water, and a proprietary chemical mix is then pumped down the well, into the shale level. This is done at extremely high pressures, thus forcing gas out of tiny cracks in the shale layer. This gas then travels back up the well, where it is collected at the ground’s surface.

While fracking is extremely useful for retrieving deeply-trapped natural gas, it comes with consequences. Perhaps one of the most dramatic and easily recognizable consequences of fracking is that of earthquakes[3]. Two decades ago, Oklahoma experienced little to no seismic activity- this is no longer the case. Over the past fifteen years or so, the number of earthquakes that have occurred within the state of Oklahoma has sharply increased. In fact, in 2016 alone, Oklahoma experienced more than 600 earthquakes that possessed a magnitude of 3 or more on the Richter scale[4]. This is in addition to the hundreds of smaller earthquakes that were also reported that year. Scientific studies are slowly beginning to emerge suggesting fracking and increased regional seismic activity are high correlated; there may even be a causal relationship[5].

These earthquakes are a nuisance at best and devastating at worst. The fact that earthquakes are occurring in a land-locked state, hundreds of miles from the nearest fault line, is alarming in itself. What is even more alarming, however, is the damage these earthquakes are causing within Oklahoma. Perhaps the most poignant example of this was seen in the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred outside of Pawnee, Oklahoma in September of 2016. This earthquake led to the damage, and in some cases destruction, of many buildings. In fact, over 250 insurance claims were filed in the aftermath of this earthquake[6]. Financial consequence of this magnitude is troubling.

Another possible hazard associated with fracking is the contamination of groundwater supplies. Admittedly, the amount of studies on the long-term effects of fracking on water tables is lacking, but there have been anecdotal reports of water contamination.[7] It should still concern citizens to know that there is a potential for ground water- often used for drinking, bathing, and cooking- to become contaminated due to the practice of fracking. The fluid mixture that is used in the fracking process itself is never removed from the shale layer- it just sits there as waste water. As the layers of ground shift, this waste water could possibly seep into other layers, like the layer containing groundwater. This could potentially lead to citizens consuming water that contains things like sand and assorted chemicals.

Further, oil and gas companies are allowed to patent the chemical mixtures that they add to fracking fluid. Because of this, the chemical mix is considered proprietary; oil and gas companies are not obliged to disclose the mixture’s contents to anyone. This means that, if groundwater was to be contaminated with fracking fluid, citizens could potentially not even know what chemicals they are ingesting. This fact also makes the cleanup of potential leaks that much more challenging, as governmental bodies would not be aware of what types of chemicals they are dealing with.

All in all, it appears that fracking is a practice that is here to stay within our state. That is, at least for the time being. It is relatively new practice. Because of this, there is a significant lack of scientific literature regarding the long-term environmental effects of fracking. From earthquakes to groundwater contamination, the hazards of fracking are certainly apparent. It is up to scientists, and the citizens of Oklahoma, to research this practice and ultimately hold legislators and oil companies responsible for their actions.