One Year.

For the last 365 days, I have not drank a single diet coke.

I’ve never been fully diagnosed (I don’t know even if they diagnose this) but I’m quite certain I’m addicted to sugar (and sugar substitutes) and this addiction–while it is not limited to diet sodas–has most manifested itself best in this bubbly goodness. I started answering the question, “Would you like anything to drink?” with “Yes, anything that is diet and brown please.” Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke Zero (my personal favorite). Diet Pepsi, if I must…

I don’t believe I’ve publicly written much about my personal health and, while I don’t believe I plan to make a habit of it, this feels like a victory worth celebrating.

I’ve come to terms with knowing that–over my life–I’ve had an abusive relationship with food. Like others, my weight tends to fluctuate with the season. I tend to thin out in the Spring–sometimes too much too fast–and then will pack the pounds back on over the holidays.

In the past few years, I’ve tried to ratchet up my physical activity. I ran two half marathons in 2015/16 and was feeling really good about my health but desiring a new physical challenge. I had a buddy who was a regular at a Crossfit gym here in Norman. I enjoyed ragging on him about the usually stereotypes of Crossfit, but eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to sign up for a six week “beginner’s challenge.” The gym was also doing a nutrition challenge that started the same day as the beginner’s challenge and, through nothing more than good timing, I was automatically signed up for that too.

I am neither going to write about the actual approaches that Crossfit takes (the most comprehensive read is here) nor try to talk anybody into starting Crossfit. but what I do want to say is that what I’ve come to appreciate most is how Crossfit takes a rounded approach to fitness by integrating physical activity with community and nutrition. All of this is a setup to say one of the rules was don’t drink coke–diet or otherwise. And that one happened to stick all year.

Is diet soda bad? I don’t know. Interestingly enough, swearing it off has made me more curious to look at the research and my best conclusion (formulated from others people’s conclusions) is that it’s actually totally fine in moderation. But my issues were very much more mental than they were physical. Diet coke wasn’t making me fat, it was controlling my mind. And I just wanting to stop desiring it so much (spoiler alert: that never went away, still want it).

The best new is that over the last while my relationship to food has only slightly changed, my relationship with myself is much better. I didn’t actually win on the scale this last year, but I did make progress in my head. And that demon is much harder to conquer.

I don’t have the words yet to artfully articulate this next thought, so bare with me as I attempt to pull a metaphor out of this one. I’m too prideful to make New Year’s Resolutions, but I will happily set goals two weeks into the year. In the same way that I have allowed (insert your answer here: consumerism, industrialization, capitalism) to dictate my eating habits, I’ve also allowed (insert your answer here: social media, algorithms, cable television, consumerism/industrializaiton/capitalism) to control my media consumption habits. Similar to how I desire to consume bad food, I also desire to consume new information (often referred to as “news” but I’m thinking broader than MSM and will include statuses and tweets), and I frequently consume it at a rate in where likely haven’t even processed the last story before the next. Yet I desire to feed the beast.

As with diet soda, I don’t think it’s entirely unhealthy to engage with media (mainstream, social, or otherwise), but I do wish to focus this year on severely limiting my intake, which means less time swimming in the constant streams that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram serve me and being more conscious about other types of media (podcasts, late night talk shows, private conversations I have etc.) and dialing it all slightly back; not in an effort to go completely dark or become ignorant of our world, but rather to participate differently. Hear me when I say I’m not convinced the answer is to shut down accounts… I just sure would love to stop giving in to desire to check it all the time.

I joked with a colleague the other day that part of my solution was going to be more email. But it’s true. Recently. I’ve signed up for more daily newsletters (one recommendation is a column from the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Media Today”) so that I can continue to scratch the itch that once to know the day’s top headlines, but simply do so first thing in the morning and then go on with my day.

Exactly, one year later. I’m doing the challenge again. Hoping to win it back little-by-little. I am thankful for how I have been able to grow over the past couple of years by learning about health and wellness and particularly thankful for the support of my local community gym. As someone with little-to-no athletic background, I’m much more aware that fitness is not just physical strength but also mental fortitude. And I’m hopeful that this one small, itty bitty victory will be motivation for me to conquer other physical and mental challenges.

Featured image: Trippy Diet Coke design. Great colors. flickr photo by adam.croom shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Tuesday, September 16

Welcome to the official start of Spring semester! Today is Tuesday... and Week 1 has begun. This first week is an Orientation week, and you have assignments due today. Here is a link to the Orientation week activities. I hope you will have fun creating your blog for class, which is the main Tuesday activity!

Class Procedures and Reminders

Success Tips. Each day in the announcements, I'll be sharing some kind of success tip for the class... and today's tip is: read the announcements! You'll see this announcements blog as the course homepage in Canvas, and you can also bookmark the blog: Daily Class Announcements. The specific information you need for the class assignments will always be up at the top of the announcements, followed by items that I hope will be of general interest down below.

Two Classes | One Set of Announcements. These Announcements are for BOTH the Myth-Folklore class AND the Indian Epics class. Each class has its own reading materials, but the weekly assignments are the same. So, these shared announcements are a way for those of you in Myth-Folklore to learn more about India (a great land of stories!), and also for the people in the Indian Epics class to learn about other storytelling traditions from the Myth class.

Blogs and Comments. By the end of the day today, everybody will be blogging in their own blogs! My goal this week is to read and comment on all the Favorite Places posts, and I will also try to comment on other posts too, based on how much time I have (this week will be pretty hectic with just four days of class). You can see the live blog stream in Canvas, and there's a combined blog stream for both classes here: Class Directory.

Please call me Laura! I will be on a first-name basis with all of you, and I hope you will feel comfortable just calling me Laura.

The following items are for fun and exploration:

Blog Stream. Some people already started blogging last week, and that means I can start sharing items from people's blogs in the announcements already. For today, here is a fun LOLCat that Blake made and shared in her blog: I HAZ CREATED ARMY. Making memes is one of the extra credit tech tips you can try if you want... and you can then use your own memes in the stories you are writing for class if you want.

India Item. This animated graphic tells a story from Indian mythology: Rahu, The Eclipse Demon.

Myth Video: For those of you in the Myth class, the Crash Course Myth videos might be something you want to explore for class; here is the first video in the series if you are curious: What Is Myth?

Proverb of the Day: Today's proverb is a Latin saying: The frog jumps back into the swamp even if you've placed him on a throne. Find out more at the Proverb Laboratory. Here's the Latin version: Rana ad paludes resilit, etiamsi in solium locaveris.

Writing: Here's an item to inspire you as you start blogging today: Why Starting a Blog Could Change Your Life.

And I very much hope that this class can be an imagination celebration! The poster is by Maurice Sendak.

Video: Here's another video that I thought you might enjoy: it's about Art in Bizzell Library. I am a huge fan of Bizzell Library... and of any library anywhere!

Event on Campus: You have until January 17 to see this exhibit at the Sam Noble Museum: Native Voices -- Native People's Concepts of Health and Illness (details). That might be of special interest to those of you who are planning careers in medicine! Find out more about this and other events at the Campus Calendar online.

January 16: Don Quixote. On this day in 1605 Cervantes published the first volume of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha). The first English translation appeared already in 1612. You can read more about this storytelling masterpiece at Wikipedia. The image below is a sculpture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Madrid:

And here are Coldplay performing their song Don Quixote / Spanish Rain... with Spanish subtitles (English lyrics here).

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

Behind Birdcage Poems Episode 2-“Dreams”

In this episode of Behind Birdcage Poems you’ll dive a little deeper into the business and learn more about what Caged Bird Records is doing. You’ll see us go on a photoshoot in Houston, discuss our novel in the works, and get a surface level introduction to the CBR business plan. Stay tuned for Episode 3 where you’ll be able to meet the first band to sign to Caged Bird Records, MiR, and get to know their music.

January 15: Martin Luther King Day

on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I would encourage you to take a few moments to learn more about Dr. King and his legacy by visiting this gallery of quotes and posters. You will see random posters each time the page reloads, with a small poster in the sidebar and a larger poster below.  You can also listen to this video, which features Dr. King's final speech; more about this speech at Wikipedia.

About the class: Yes, the class is also open and ready to go if you want to get started! You will find all the information you need here: Spring 2018: ready to start. Meanwhile, I'll be in and out of the office today, but I'll try to respond promptly to emails; my address is:

So, enjoy the holiday, and I hope you will have a good time with the class this semester!

Social Informatics Spring 2018

I’m looking forward to teaching Social Informatics again this semester at Simmons SLIS. I’m using my module on Critical Informatics at the beginning of the course as an opportunity to incorporate a few new topics this year, including Feminist Theories of Technology, Black Cyberfeminism, and Design Justice, building on other critical theoretical perspectives in LIS.

Here is the link to the syllabus for this semester.

“Social Informatics” refers to the body of research and study that examines social aspects of computerization – including the roles of information technology in social and organizational change and the ways that the social organization of information technologies are influenced by social forces and social practices. This graduate seminar is for students interested in the influence of information technology in the human context, including cultural heritage, professional concerns, and social inequities. The course introduces some of the key concepts of social informatics and situates them into the view of varied perspectives including readers, librarians, computer professionals, authors, educators, publishers, editors, and the institutions that support them.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe a variety of social, political, and economic contexts that shape information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their impact on society.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of social systems and how they interact with ICTs.
  • Discuss concepts that illuminate the intersections of race, class, gender, identity, ability, and ICTs.
  • Identify a range of ethical, legal, and policy issues that impact the design and use of ICTs.

The course syllabus is available under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

#IWishIKnew How Much I’d Miss Soccer

It’s been two-and-a-half years since I played competitively.

I didn’t believe my dad when he said I would, but I miss those early mornings. I miss the slide tackles, the way the ball felt against my cleats and traveling with my teammates to all those tournaments. I even miss running those 120s when we didn’t perform to our trainer’s expectations (and that strong, fit bod that came with it).

There’s something special about soccer. It taught me discipline, patience and time management (and a lot more, trust me. But we’re focusing on these three).

“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re late, go home.”

Today, I’m fortunate enough to attend a big university with an intramural league, but it’s not quite the same. Attendance isn’t reliable, whether it’s your own team or the team you’re playing, and some players haven’t even stepped on a real soccer field before.

“Just have Sally come stand on the field so you don’t have to forfeit.”
Okay…but that’s all she is—a body. I can’t count on Sally to understand what “mark up,” “press,” or “to be goalside” means. It can be taught, yes, but at the end of the day, it’s frustrating and I signed up to play, not to coach (maybe one day, but not today).

In select and high school soccer, you had scheduled games and practices, and you could count on your teammates to show up every weekend. And your teammates were talented, wanted to be there and you could trust them if the ball went past the forwards. Ugh! Okay okay, I’m done complaining.

Let’s get back to what the greatest game ever played taught me. 🙂

Would you rather have a trainer yell at you or just let you play? If you said, “just let me play!,” you’re wrong.
A trainer that yells at you means that they care about your performance. And more importantly, they care about your improvement.
No matter how many 120s I ran (and how much I hated running them), it spoke to me as a soccer player. This trainer cares about my fitness and wants to shape me into a better player (I might be stretching that a bit since this trainer is clearly POed right now, but it sounds good so let’s just roll with it).

And for as many times I got yelled at on that field, you could only imagine how good it felt to hear the words, “Nice work, Carolyn.”

After tearing two ACLs and a meniscus, I was sitting sideline for a total of two years (1 ACL = 9-12 months, 1 meniscus = 6 months). Suddenly, my role on the team switched from starting right outside mid to the bench—for nine. months. It was a hard pill to swallow, no doubt, but it required that I change the way I approached practices and games.

During my recovery period, I discovered a different meaning to the word, “teammate.” I was no longer attending every practice or getting the opportunity to play a full game. My role truly (and quickly) changed from player to supporter.

Rain or shine, I was there for my team. I cheered for them loud and proud, and I continued to bring my bag to every game. I came prepared with an extra pair of socks, shorts and jerseys (in both colors of course), shin guards, cleats, even sports bras (TBH, I was more prepared as a cripple than I was as a player). I carried a first aid kit with me as well and still brought a full jug of water to games for my teammates to use if their’s ran out.

I’ve overcome my fair share of obstacles, and although it absolutely sucked to sit on a bench when all you want to do is help your team physically, I’m thankful for my injuries as they taught me how to help my team mentally and emotionally—which is just as important.

Time Management:
Like I said before, “if you’re late, go home.” And that is no joke. I actually witnessed one of my teammates get kicked out of practice one time because she was ten minutes late. Yeah, it was a little aggressive, but my teammate was never late to a practice or game ever again.

On the other side of time management, I knew I had to stay organized. With three practices a week (which, might I add, were all scheduled 8-9:30 p.m. since I turned 14), life was a little more than stressful. And two of those three practices were located at a field 40+ minutes away, which meant I was leaving the house no later than 7:05 p.m. and getting home at 10:15 p.m. At that point, I still had to shower, get ready for bed, finish any homework and still fall asleep at a decent hour.

The life I lived back then was a hectic one, but it required that I stay on schedule. It helped if I finished my homework before practice and, if we performed well, no 120s after practice!!! Score.

Life Changes:
No matter how much my life continues to change in my twenties, the environment I surrounded myself with as a teenager is similar to the life I live now. You see, instead of having teammates to turn to and count on, I have a team of coworkers. And instead of a physical goal to shoot in, we have goals to strive for and achieve. I still have a mentor to coach me in my career path, and sometimes a few 120s (long hours and long days) will do me some good in terms of improving my endurance (how far I can push myself).

And when all is said and done, I still have a soccer ball to physically pick up and kick around when I need a break from the world around me.

I understand the different hats a team player must wear, whether that’s carrying the team as a captain, supporting them by being their cheerleader, or both.

#IWishIKnew how much I’d miss soccer, but I’m glad that I’m able to find the great game in little aspects of my life now and in my future career.

The Post: A Non-Spoiler Review

The Post is a film that revolves around the 1970s legal battle between the press (most importantly the Times and the titular Washington Post) and the Nixon administration after the revealing of the Pentagon Papers.

The film stars the exquisite Meryl Streep as the first female newspaper publisher: Kay Graham. She is thrust into this position after a tragedy strikes her. Streep’s natural and conflicted delivery of Graham is moving and relatable, similar to most of her performances. Streep subtlety brings massive amounts of character development with simple actions, such as a change in posture or the flick of a hand. Meryl Streep has always been, and continues to be, on another level of performing. The Post adds yet another Oscar-worthy performance to a reel full of them.

The second star of the film is Tom Hanks, who plays the role of Ben Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington post during this time. Hanks did what he does best in this movie: blend in. Hanks’ ability to immerse himself in a character truly shines in this film, letting the audience believe Ben Bradlee is on the screen, not an actor. Bradlee’s rough voice and certainty bounce perfectly off Streep’s performance. The characters contrast in just the right ways, helping the audience fall in love with both.

Other performances by Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, and Bruce Greenwood were great editions that really kept the scenes without the two stars on the same level. Alison Brie & David Cross were both pure and wonderful cameos that accented the film. Between roles in Community, Mad Men, and now The Post, Alison Brie has shown to be quite a versatile actor.

Over the years, Steven Spielberg has proven his ability to variate as a director, often with Mr.Hanks (this actually broke Hanks’ tie with Harrison Ford for the amount of times an actor has worked with Spielberg). It’s clear that the director knew exactly what the film needed to be and was capable of executing it. The pacing of The Post sends chills down my spine, knowing just when to hit you in the gut and when to pull back. Hbpefully Spielberg’s work on this film carries over to ReadyPlayerOne.

The biggest stars of the Post are the writers. Liz Hannah and Josh Singer wrote a true-story script that highlights corruption and “grey areas” comparable to that of one of my all-time favorite films: The Big Short. The most impressive piece of this is that the final script was the FIRST SCRIPT. Hannah and Singer, with their words, crafted a script with dialogue that even flat and soulless actors could make interesting (luckily we had some of the best to make it breathtaking).

Throughout The Post, several issues are addressed, mainly the relationship of the press with the government. Free speech is attacked. Livelihoods could be destroyed. Relationships are strained. The Post highlights a time in our history when we had to draw a line in the sand. The film speaks of when the press had to choose between whether they were a friend or a check to the government.

The Post is a cinematic masterpiece. More than that though, it’s a relevant message. It’s a reminder that history repeats itself unless the cycle is broken. Our country, our press, is facing an extremely similar scenario to the one faced in the 70s.

WHAT I LIKED: Everything.

WHAT I DIDN’T: I honestly can’t think of one thing I didn’t enjoy about this film.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Everyone should see The Post. It’s a film that shows a fierce parallel between then and now while also being a pleasure to sit though. While the performances and directing are phenomenal, the writing is what is truly otherworldly about this film.


The Post is one of five movies that I’ve ever given a 10/10 to. It slots in at number five in my all-time list, right after Inception. I’ll need to watch it a couple more times to decide how it truly falls in the top five.

8 Photographers You Need to Follow

I love photography. I love to create and capture moments. I believe the art of photography is underappreciated, as crazy as that may sound. Many do not appreciate the process a photographer goes through to get the perfect photo. Seriously. There a some out there that believe all you need to be a “good” photographer […]

start – [GeoServer]

Hardware/Software Meetings with Reuben, Jared, Cindy, and John Top Items (THIS WILL CHANGE due to unforeseen circumstances) Infrastructure and AWS * Need VPNs for backups offsite. Goal for this year is to virtualize and update op boxes and LDM. Want to move critical processing machines to VMs and giving them more memory. Including Op servers and LDM servers. (9/15/16).

Lyrics With Lauren (X)

This week has purely been a week of empowerment.  From the Golden Globes taking a stand with the “Time is Up” movement and wearing all black, to personal events that lead to goals and realizations, 2018 truly is the year for change and moving forward within societal standards.  With these ideas in mind, I started creating a playlist on Apple Music (yes… I made the switch from Spotify to Apple Music) called “Biiig 2018 Mood” which is filled with happy, upbeat, empowering songs.

(Check out my playlist on Spotify of all the songs I’ve shared on my blog here.)