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Joshua Whiting

learner, writer, creator, librarianish person

a stream

All posts and notes on this site, sorted by when published.


New Longer Thing: Writing the Great American Email

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.18]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]
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Writing the Great American Email

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.18]
[Last Updated: 2022.08.11]

The last rays of the sun transfigured the water tower, the freeway overpasses, and the tops of the pins on the bowling alley sign, as I sat at my computer in an emptied office. I hadn’t noticed the sky darkening as I tapped away on my keyboard, compulsively shift-tabbing the cursor, re-reading, revising, substituting words, deleting phrases, and reorganizing paragraphs.

The last rays of the sun transfigured the water tower, the freeway overpasses, and the tops of the pins on the bowling alley sign, as I sat at my computer in an emptied office. I hadn’t noticed the sky darkening as I tapped away on my keyboard, compulsively shift-tabbing the cursor, re-reading, revising, substituting words, deleting phrases, and reorganizing paragraphs.

I still didn’t notice how late it was when my wife called me up wondering where I was and what I was doing, if I was okay. It was only as I dumbly attempted to explain to her why I was still at work that I recognized my folly. I was deep in creative flow, composing a short essay. I thought it was pretty good, and it was nearly complete.  It had some humor, it had a detailed history of past work on the subject, and it had what I think are some promising ideas for the topic moving forward. Sounds great, right? I haven’t yet disclosed a key detail, which is that it was about to be sent in reply to an email I received with a simple question asked in a single sentence.

My wife recommended I not hit send on that email just then, and I took her advice. It is still in my drafts. It was not all for naught, though. As I closed up the office and drove home from work, I was finally ably to put a name to a needed work productivity goal (and probably professional relationship goal, but I hate thinking about relationships) around what I think must be a rather unique personal challenge - I should not be writing The Great American Email.

Getting lost in composing detailed narratives and obsessively reworking sentences is within my full purview here in nowhereland, but it is usually not all that helpful or productive in an email at work. So, if I recognize that I am starting to write an extensive email, I need to take pause and figure out if it should actually be a phone call, an item for a meeting, a note that I don’t share with anyone yet, a sentence or two summary, or if it really needs to be anything at all. After all, I know people skip or delete my emails, sometimes maybe I can skip or delete things, too. 

I need to recognize that sometimes I just like reading myself writing - case in point, this very website, of which I may well be the only reader. Please don’t try to like, subscribe, or leave a comment, because none of those things are possible here. (Well, I guess “subscribe” is possible, if you are into that ancient protocol, RSS.)

TL;DR here’s that quality productivity self-help life hack you can share with all your business bros and professional contacts on LinkedIn - DON’T WRITE THE GREAT AMERICAN EMAIL.

(That is, unless your work is composing an email newsletter that you hope will get picked up by The Atlantic or make you a Substack millionaire – in that case you should definitely try to write the Great American Email. The school district doesn’t pay me for that sort of work, though.)


Standalone post link: Writing the Great American Email
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Reading Link: Teen Librarians Are Not Pornographers

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.17]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]
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topographicbark

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.16]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

Photograph taken on June 13, 2009, somewhere off the South Fork Road in Provo Canyon.

I guess I’m going to at least occasionally continue with the totally random old photos. Probably should get a good series/source name for them.

Standalone post link: topographicbark
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Book Review - The Last Cuentista

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.16]
[Last Updated: 2021.11.15]

I wrote and had published on Granite Media a review of The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. Might as well reshare it here for a record.

I wrote and had published on Granite Media a review of The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. Might as well reshare it here for a record.

Full review text from https://www.granitemedia.org/2021/11/the-last-cuentista/ :

It’s literally the end of the world: a solar flare has knocked Haley’s Comet into a catastrophic collision course with Earth. But for almost-13-year-old Petra and her family there is an opportunity in the midst of this tragedy: they must leave their grandmother and their home in the New Mexico desert to secretly board an interstellar ship on a mission to colonize a new planet. Petra’s family is chosen as part of the mission because her parents are expert scientists with knowledge needed for exploring and terraforming the new planet. They will be put into stasis for the nearly 400 year space journey, and along the way Petra will receive a cognitive learning implant that will make her an expert in botany and geology when she arrives and is brought out of stasis. More than that, though, she also carries within her the Mexican folklore her grandmother shared with her, and the desire to be a storyteller, and preserve the stories of humanity. When she is brought out of stasis, not to her parents but to a future far different and more precarious than what was planned, her stories and Earth memories might be the only hope for saving what is left of humanity.

This book launches with a seemingly typical near-future sci-fi premise, but is unique as a middle-grade novel centering the story around a young person’s perspective. The author expertly interweaves Petra’s present predicament with flashbacks to her life on earth before the journey, as well as folklore and tales she learned from her Grandmother, which turn out to be absolutely prescient to her current situation light years from Earth. The book has positive echoes of middle-grade classics like The Giver and the Wrinkle in Time books, but with a contemporary flair, a fresh Mexican American perspective, and perhaps higher stakes for the characters. Beyond being a gripping science fiction adventure, it is filled with topics and situations for tween readers to discuss and think about, which would make it great for a book club or classroom study.

Reviewed by Joshua Whiting, Library Media Program, Granite Educational Technology Department Review shared in October 2021 Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars) Interest Level: Grades 5 and Up

Author Website: dbhiguera.com

Title: The Last Cuentista Author: Donna Barba Higuera Publisher: Levine Querido Release Date: October 12, 2021 A review copy was not provided by the publisher.

Standalone post link: Book Review - The Last Cuentista
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Reading: All Boys Aren't Blue

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.14]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

Yesterday morning I finished reading All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. This morning I wrote six to seven pages of thoughts and notes about it, that I’m likely not safe to share anywhere right now, including here in unsyndicated nowhereland.

It’s a powerful book, though, if you’re willing to spend the time with it. And I’m afraid that fear of that power might be the true root and rot of the issue that seemingly requires me not to talk about it.

Yesterday morning I finished reading All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. This morning I wrote six to seven pages of thoughts and notes about it, that I’m likely not safe to share anywhere right now, including here in unsyndicated nowhereland.

It’s a powerful book, though, if you’re willing to spend the time with it. And I’m afraid that fear of that power might be the true root and rot of the issue that seemingly requires me not to talk about it.

Standalone post link: Reading: All Boys Aren't Blue
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potatobroccolicheesesoup

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.14]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

I ended my cooking drought by making some potato-broccoli-cheese soup this afternoon, and now I’m ending my daily posting drought by sharing it here.

I ended my cooking drought by making some potato-broccoli-cheese soup this afternoon, and now I’m ending my daily posting drought by sharing it here.

I’ve tried several different methods for this kind of soup and I finally have settled on this recipe as the best for what I want. I just add a bunch of broccoli and carrots to it, which is really the only change. And sometimes I mash one side of the pot with a potato masher. And I use more cheese than it says to.

I guess actually if I was in the recipe blogging scene those additions would constitute enough variations to write it up here as my own recipe. With pictures like this, I’m leaning hard into this being an anti-recipe blog, though. You’ll just have to trust me that it tastes good; my wife and daughter can vouch for that, too. Not my son, though; he ate oatmeal for dinner instead.

Standalone post link: potatobroccolicheesesoup
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Filling Up Space

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.13]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

fillingupspace

I filled up another ‘Field Notes’ notebook. I’m obsessed with these, and I already have too many, but I justify it because I do really like to write in them, I think I write more because of them. And now I even draw silly stuff in them sometimes. I’m sure I’ll use them all eventually.

stack of my filled ‘Field Notes’ notebooks with Grand Teton on top

fillingupspace

I filled up another ‘Field Notes’ notebook. I’m obsessed with these, and I already have too many, but I justify it because I do really like to write in them, I think I write more because of them. And now I even draw silly stuff in them sometimes. I’m sure I’ll use them all eventually.

stack of my filled ‘Field Notes’ notebooks with Grand Teton on top

Next up is this plain blue notebook, with turquoise and green ink pens. This is the first non-National Parks Series notebook I’ll be filling.

new blue notebook

Standalone post link: Filling Up Space
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nightbookshelf

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.10]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

nightbookshelf

(nightbookshelf)

nightbookshelf

(nightbookshelf)

Standalone post link: nightbookshelf
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Listening: Mesita - Empty Island

[Originally Posted: 2021.11.09]
[Last Updated: 2021.11.21]

THINGS I DIDN’T POST DURING THE PANDEMIC - 01

mesita - empty island - cover image

Back in the spring of 2020 Mesita was writing, recording, and releasing the music of the pandemic in realtime, but I didn’t post anything about it at the time because I wasn’t really posting things, and I feel bad about that.

THINGS I DIDN’T POST DURING THE PANDEMIC - 01

mesita - empty island - cover image

Back in the spring of 2020 Mesita was writing, recording, and releasing the music of the pandemic in realtime, but I didn’t post anything about it at the time because I wasn’t really posting things, and I feel bad about that.

Because after that he kind of went into a thing where he tried to get away from the Internet and from music, and he still is kind of into that thing, and I’m kind of into a thing like that, too, and so I wish him the best in whatever he decides to do, but a downside of that thing, besides the fact that maybe he’s not going to make music anymore, is that he deleted all his youtube videos of individual songs that I would have posted and that were easy to share. He did later gather all those springtime pandemic songs in this album Empty Island, though, and it is still around on Bandcamp and the streaming services- at least for now.

And it turns out that it is actually quite easy to share or embed stuff from Bandcamp in any number of ways, and youtube is actually kind of awful even though it is so easy and ubiquitous.

Album: Empty Island Artist: Mesita (Brooklyn, New York by way of Littleton, Colorado) Release Year: 2020 Label: Self-Released

Standalone post link: Listening: Mesita - Empty Island
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Copyright 2022 Joshua David Whiting. Made in Millcreek, Utah, USA. Contact me. Built with Hugo and my own WP51 theme, still a work in progress. Hosted via Github and Netlify.