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April 6th, 2009

It's official. I have lost my small Totes umbrella. Damnit.

We had the weirdest weather today—hence the focus on the umbrella. We've had several days in the 70s and 80s, and all of a sudden, today, we had in succession: a tornado watch, a severe thunderstorm watch, and then a freeze warning. And in between all that the sun came out and went in. Crazy.



I only had one work meeting today, well one that pertains to my regular job. That was for an hour after lunch, and it was a "working" (as opposed to "talking") meeting, and it was highly productive—working with a manager to show him how to get started moving his area's content into our organization's Drupal-powered website.

A colleague asked me if I'd take a look at some of his writings—a memoir, and some poetry—and give him some feedback. I consider this both a professional and personal affirmation.



From 4:00-6:00, we had our final Race Study Circles session, during which we reflected on our five-week experience using this outline to frame the discussion:

  • Major Learning Points (skills, information and knowledge gained)

  • Personal Reflection (thoughts and feelings about what you heard and learned)

  • Professional application (behavior changes related to job)

  • Personal application (behavior changes related to attitudes, interactions with others)

At about halfway through our two-hour meeting, a representative for the university's Office of Equal Opportunity dropped in to tell us about the "What's next..." of study circles. Turns out it's a mature and broad program with the follow ways to keep engaged on the topic of Equal Opportunity:

  • All Circles Meetings (where everyone who has participated in a study circle can get together to continue the dialog

  • Steering Team (helps set the content and direction of the study circles)

  • Action Teams (for ad hoc to address issue areas of interest)

  • Study Circle Facilitators

  • Study Circles II (more of a commitment, meet for a longer period of time, cover more issues, work with partners)

  • Listserv (everyone who "graduates" from a study circle gets added to a listserv)

We also brainstormed about things we could do, mostly on our own, no matter how small, over the coming days and weeks:

  • Encourage others to get involved with study circles

  • Reach out socially to others not generally part of your group

  • Lead by example (e.g., be welcoming, be mindful of your language and generalizations)

  • Ask questions of those that offend you—learn more about their experiences and see it as an opportunity to educate

  • Take advantage of university cultural events and bring someone with you

  • Engage students K-12 with culturally diverse histories

  • Get university students to advocate on behalf of the need for more ethic studies and history classes

  • Mobilize alumni of study circles and connect activities

  • Keep up to date with research on race statistics, issues, setbacks, and progress

  • Diversify student groups to promote understanding

  • Raise awareness through technology (blog and Tweet about race statistics, issues, setbacks and progress)

  • Make people aware that we all have responsibilities

  • Make people aware that race is not just about black and white
At the end of today's session, we were all presented with an Achievement Award certificate for successful completion of the program.

One final thing that we did was to write ourselves a little letter stating things we'd like to do over the next six months with regards to everything we've learned and our commitment to making a difference on this topic. We sealed it, addressed it to ourselves, and turned it in.

The Study Circles office will mail them to us in six months. The last time I did this was in Weight Watchers when I reached my goal weight (many years and pounds ago). "Write down all the things that you remember hating about being fat. We'll mail these to you in six months in case you start slipping into your old habits. It'll be a wake-up call for you to nip it in the bud."

I asked tonight as I turned this one in, "What happens if you mail these to us in six months and one of us has died. It's creepy enough getting mail for a dead person, but the creepiness factor increases exponentially when the mail is from the deceased."

People thought this was morbid for some queer reason.



I read through the first five pages of my friend's memoirs, using the PDF review markup to offer my feedback. It's compelling enough that I want to read ahead to see what happens, but I'm refraining from doing it, so that I can capture my reactions and feedback on my initial read of the material.



I went to Flex to watch the NCAA final game between UNC and Michigan State. There were maybe 10 people in the bar, and for the first 30-45 minutes of the game the music blasted in the place, while the TVs were on mute.

Finally, I said to the bartender, "Look around here. Everyone in here is watching the game. Is there any reason why we can't turn off the music and turn on the sound to the televisions?"

He replied, "Brigner (the manager) wants the music on, but I can make it such that the music plays on the other half of the bar (where only two people were sitting) and the sound comes on on all of the TVs here around the bar." Good idea; wish I'd thought of it.

Joe was kept late at work, and he arrived on the late side. It had dwindled down to maybe five or so people by then, so after drink, we went over to The Borough. It was actually not very busy over there either. So after one more drink and two appetizers that we split, we went home.

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