January 2003 Archives

blogging risks and benefits

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I was thinking about whether I wanted to blog the high point of my day today, when I came across Mark Pilgrim's post about his boss reading his blog regularly. Seems that after Mark posted about how his job was driving him insane, his boss suggested that he take a few days off and completely "unplug." Cool.

I'm pretty sure my boss doesn't read my blog. But I always assume that she--and a variety of other people--might be, and I write with that in mind. Last week, when I posted about my disillusionment with some co-workers, I did so cautiously, not naming names or specific situations, aware that the entry could end up being read in unexpected places. That's the risk of blogging. My mother--who does read my blog--expressed some concern about those risks after I wrote that entry. But at the end of the day, I have to believe the risks of blogging the difficult passages in my life are outweighed by the benefits.

And today I had affirmation of those benefits. A student that I'm quite fond of stopped by my office, and asked if it it was okay to close the door. Uh-oh, I thought. A tale of woe is sure to follow, and I'll go home for the weekend bummed out about this person's unhappy experience. But I'm glad my students trust me enough to share their concerns, so I said "sure," and braced myself.

"I was reading your blog this week," the student continued, "and I read a post that left me a little worried about you. Is everything okay?" Wow. I know a lot of my students read my blog, but somehow that always seems kind of remote. I certainly don't expect them to show up in my office to discuss them! "No," I replied, "I'm fine...really." I reassured the student that my tenure process seems to be proceeding in a positive way (knocking on the faux wood surface of my desk as I did so), and that the post had been a normal expression of frustration with the ever-present machinations of academic politics. (And last week's disappointment was nothing compared to the outrageous slings and arrows I suffered this week. Definitely not a bloggable story.) Still solicitous, the student said that if I felt I were being treated unfairly, that the issue could be raised in student government, because students felt strongly about good professors being appreciated by the university.

Wow.

It's worth every bit of trouble and pain that this job brings--from departmental politics to grading--to have even one encounter like that. It's the kind of reaffirming experience that tells you that when push comes to shove (which it all too often seems to do these days), you're doing the right thing at the core aspects of your job. That's why I'm here--I love to teach. I left the corporate training gig because in part because there was no extended contact with students--I didn't get to see them through a process, and watch the results. What I love most about my job is the fact that it lets me build relationships with my students, to help them learn not only about web development, but also about how to navigate the world.

And when they turn around and repay the favor--well, it's a lot like the feeling I have when my kids turn around and give me an extra hug because I look sad, or crawl into bed with me when I'm sick and rub my back. That realization that the connection isn't one way--that's a powerful thing.

So despite the political ups and downs of my week, I'm sitting here on my couch this evening feeling like one of the luckiest people in town.

best line of the day

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From Joi Ito's Web:

if you took all of the drunken businessmen in the 75,000 bars and restaurants in Tokyo (I saw this figure many years ago in Time Magazine.) and made them go home and blog, the revolution in Japan might happen much more quickly.

I love this. "Make them go home and blog." Maybe I should suggest this as a solution to internecine academic politics.

trackback integration?

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Tom Coates expresses frustration with the role and nature of trackback technology, and says that he's designed his site to incorporate trackbacks into the content. I have no idea what he means, so I'm pinging his post to see what happens. :-)

If the ping works, and he ends up here, I have some suggestions for him...

First, add a more explicit permalink to the entries. Blogging UI convention is that the comments link brings up just the comments, not the full post--so it took me quite a while to figure out how to link directly to the post in question.

Second, be aware that the value of trackback is that you don't need to already know that someone's talking about you--if someone whose blog you don't regularly read references you, the backlinking is automatic. If someone references this post, I don't want to have to (a) hope that I'll stumble across the link by poring over referrer logs, or (b) go in manually and add a link back to the person who referenced me. I want that all to happen in the background--I want to be notified when someone links to me, and I want my readers to be able to follow those links, all with no effort on my part.

Automatically bidirectional links are a really powerful technology--one that elevates links between blogs in the same way that listservs elevated the concept of a list of e-mail addresses. Like listservs, trackback automates a process that was labor-intensive and error-prone.

more pedagogical happiness

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From another student:

I started blogging because my class for Web Design required us to create individual blogs, modify them using CSS, and post in them. Then I discovered I like tweaking the blog, adding new features - sort of like upgrading a toy that will not stop improving. My desire to write has expanded to new heights. I used to write in diaries, short stories, about interesting things occassionally.

Funny...the quality is really spotty in this year's work. Half are really bad, the other half are really good. Not much middle ground. Either they took it seriously and really got into it, or they blew it off completely. <sigh>

grading gratification

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Grading is not an enjoyable aspect of teaching. Am gutting my way through the last of the web pages I need to finish grading for tomorrow, and came across one students post on web standards:

[...] at the same time they must know the rules to break the rules.

That's really the point, but so many of my students seem to miss it. It's gratifying to see it appear on a student blog.

blog research progress

First draft of the proposal summary for the "microcontent research center" that Alex and I are working on is on the blogresearch site now. Comments/feedback/suggestions welcome. (No copy editing, please...it's still a rough draft--am interested in content-related feedback.)

mysterious log entry

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Anybody know what "outbound.hds.com" is? I'm getting a whole bunch of hits from that domain, with no referring page shown. They're all going to the same link--my post on women bloggers from back in November.

hds.com appears to be Hitachi Data Systems, which tells me basically nothing.

this hurts me more than it hurts you

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A few years ago, I went through a very unpleasant work-related experience--one that led me to seriously question whether I wanted to stay in my current position, or pack my bags and head for greener (or at least warmer) pastures. This wasn't constructive criticism, by any stretch of the imagination. It was a clear message to keep my mouth shut and stay in my place. It was not rap on the knuckles with a ruler, it was a take-no-prisoners hatchet job.

Because I'm the sole breadwinner for my family, instead of following my instincts and walking out, I stayed. I swallowed my pride, sucked up the anger, the pain and the hurt feelings, and figured out how to play the game according to the unwritten rules that had oh-so-clearly been communicated to me.

To be honest, I could have benefitted at that time from constructive criticism, and mentoring from senior colleagues. It's true that at times I could be (and still can be) abrasive and unlikable, and that I'm not well-known for tolerating fools gladly. Have I toned that down? Sure. A lot. The question is, would it have happened anyways? I think so. Would it have happened faster if the criticisms I received had been offered in a constructive rather than destructive manner? I fairly certain it would have. Did it leave me with a lingering feeling of anger, resentment, and betrayal? Did it lessen my trust in my colleagues, and reduce my sense of community and collegiality? You betcha.

Over the past few years, that resentment has faded a bit. And some more positive events this year have helped to supplant the negative memories. But today someone told me in passing--not realizing the full context of the incident--that a person I'd thought was a real ally during that process had later said that they thought "it was the best thing that could have happened" to me. I felt, quite honestly, like I'd been kicked in the stomach. I came back to my office to think about it, wondering at first if I'd simply overreacted to the events of the time. Had the experience made me a better person after all? Was it possible that it had been a "good" thing?

One of my best friends has made a number of comments to me about the positive changes in me over the past few years, and I've wondered why I find myself resenting those comments. Now I realize--it felt as though it was that same message, that the miserable experience I went through was "for the best," that I'd somehow been transformed from "the bad Liz" to "the good Liz" through this process. Was she right, too?

And then I realized that I was making a fatal mistake...succumbing to the belief that the ends necessarily justify the means. Sure, if I physically punish my kids every time they forget to do their homework, they'll start remembering to do their homework. Does that justify the methods? Of course not.

Not only that, while I may have had some less than ideal interactions with people before this experience, I know for a fact that I wasn't such a rotten person as all that. From what do I draw that conclusion? From the wonderful people that are a part of my life, and who were a part of my life long before this all transpired--from my husband to my ALA friends to my college friends to my high school friends, all of whom have been important and treasured parts of my life for a long time. Just as I tend to judge the quality of my writing by how it's received by readers, I tend to judge the quality of my life by the relationships I have with others.

Maybe this experience did improve some aspects of my "political" and professional skills. Not only do I still deem it not worth the price I paid in terms of personal pain, in retrospect I think I lost easily as much as I gained. The biggest loss was trust--trust in my colleagues, trust that people are who the say they are, trust that people will do the right thing for those around them. Maybe at 40 I'm long past the point where I should have been holding onto those ideas. But loss of innocence is painful whenever it happens.

So today as I look out the big windows of my new office at the (oh-so-rare-in-January) sunshine on the clean white snow, I'm not feeling as uplifted as I did this morning. Just when I thought it was safe to come back out of my shell, my remaining shreds of trust and optimism have taken a direct hit, and I'm back to considering those greener pastures once again.

was it good for you?

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So my post on Mark Pilgrim's writing--and his response--got me thinking about what makes writing "good." And that questioning continues today, with my receipt of a request to republish one of my essays from grad school in a rhetoric textbook.

I'm sure this topic has been discussed at length in thousands of books, essays, and weblogs. But what the heck...I don't really want to go out and read what everybody else said. I just want to think about what I think.

To me, what makes writing "good" is very difficult for a writer to assess about his or her own work. Writing is intended to communicate--if the receiver of that communication deems it "good," isn't that the salient charcteristic? Can I write "good" paper for a class that doesn't get an A, if the professor for whom I wrote it didn't think it was good? If, later, someone wants to publish it, does it now "become" good? Is "good writing" in the eye of the reader, or the creator? Mark says about his writing, "if, indeed, it is [good]." But if I've just said that I think it is good, do I have the final word?

Dunno.

(If a story is written in a for(r)est, and noone is there to read it, can it be good?)

cheap fads for geeks

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As I was looking around online for real-world examples of how XML/RDF etc are useful things for my web development students to understand, I came across this excellent line from the description of FOAF: the 'friend of a friend' project:

Why is this interesting? Because it makes FOAF something more than a cheap fad for geeks. FOAF could be a basis for an extensible, standards-based platform for creating cheap fads for geeks. This is much more fun.

Too funny.

But it is a cool infrastructure. And it's the kind of thing that makes me wish Shelley Powers' new book on Practical RDF was already available...

the sincerest form of flattery

Kind of entertaining...

My IT web page

And...

Colleague #1
Colleague #2

:-)

local blog infamy

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My two best friends in Rochester (Elouise and Steve) are currently doing a technology/gadget focused radio show called "What The Tech!" (think Gizmodo meets BoingBoing, without visuals) for our local PBS station.

Last Saturday they focused on weblogs, and ran a 15-minute interview with me. The archives include both a streaming QT and a downloadable MPEG version of the show--the downloadable is much better quality, if you've got the bandwidth for a 49MB download. (If your browser, like mine, plays the MPEG directly, you can right-click on the downloadable link to save it locally.)

If you want to skip ahead to blog segments, they start at about the 11-minute mark. My "bleeding edge" interview starts at the 14:50 mark. I didn't particularly enjoy listening to it, but a number of folks locally have told me how helpful they found it. Go figure.

velvet ropes and meaningless chatter

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In his posting entitled "Influences," Mark Pilgrim writes:

Sure, once in a blue moon I offer some exclusive content--"30 days to a more accessible weblog", the occasional Python script--but day to day, the quality of my chatter is not any higher than the quality of a thousand other people's chatter.

Piffle. I'd post this in his comments, but there aren't any. So with luck, his Python script will pick this up and he'll see it.

Mark writes better than 90% of the bloggers whose sites I've seen (and I've only bothered with a small percentage of the blogosphere to begin with). He's high on Technorati's list because once people find his site, they go back. Not because his technical content is so unique or exclusive, but because his writing is musical. So I have to wonder--is he really unaware of how well he writes, or is this false modesty? I don't "know" Mark, so I can only guess. But the voice that comes through in his blog leads me to believe the modesty is real.

I don't read Mark's site because it's on Daypop. I don't even look at Daypop. I read his site because it's beautifully written, often surprising (you never know when he's going to drop an post on addiction in there amongst the accessibility discussions), always thoughtful. And yeah, the technical stuff is useful. But it's not what brings me back.

Mark points to an essay by Joe Clark, "Deconstructing You've Got Blog," in which Clark argued that the velvet ropes surrounding the "A-List" of bloggers constituted an unbreachable barrier. I think it's pretty clear that the past couple of years haven't supported that. There are plenty of interesting new blogs that have sprung up since then, and quickly gained readership--not all of them rocketing to the height that Mark's blog has reached, but many of them nestling comfortably into a community of readers and writers.

Is there similarity within these clusters? Sure. Why not? But the interesting things happen in the borders, in the connectors, the people who bridge between clusters. The borders are remarkably permeable, and I see no evidence of that changing--at least not yet.

Maybe when Microsoft and AOL launch their blogging juggernauts, the bloggers will circle their wagons, and the lines will become more rigid. But we're not there yet. And in the meantime, I can only hope to keep finding people who write as well as Mark, since there's no better way that I can think of to hone my skills as a "Grand Master at Using Computers To Avoid Doing Any Real Work."

philadelphia freedom

Well, not really freedom, but it was hard to come up with a catchy title using the word Philadelphia.

This week, the midwinter American Library Association conference will be held in Philly. I really wish I was going. I received my MLS from Michigan in '87, and some of my very closest friends are the people I met during that program, and the friends that I've met through them.

We have a wonderful group of smart, funny, interesting people who meet at every ALA conference for dinner, which invariably involves good wine, great conversation, so much laughter that your sides hurt the next day (along with your head, natch), and memories that last a long, long time.

Can't afford to go this year--we're on a tight budget, which doesn't include airfare to Philly. But I'll be thinking of my friends Saturday night as they dine at Buddakan. And I'll definitely find a way to join them in Toronto this summer.

ugh.

weather.com - Local Severe Weather Alerts Details

...LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING TONIGHT AND TUESDAY... LAKE SNOWS WILL DRIFT SOUTH ACROSS THE AREA TONIGHT WITH ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 9 INCHES EXPECTED. LAKE SNOWS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ON TUESDAY WITH ANOTHER 5 TO 9 INCHES. POOR VISIBILITIES CAN BE EXPECTED AT TIMES IN THE HEAVIEST LAKE SNOWS.

They also say the temperature is 16°--but "feels like" 2°. Those wind chill "feels like" numbers always remind of my favorite DC-area DJ when I lived out there--Harris in the Morning. One chilly morning he asked his trusty sidekick ("Dave the Predictor") just how the weather service knew that the weather "felt like" that. "What do they do," he asked, "put an eskimo in a room and ask them what it feels like?"

No need to ask anyone what it feels like today. The answer is "too cold." Our only hope for relief is a snow day tomorrow, but with my luck the worst snow will fall after I park my car at 7:45am.

whither the blog?

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It's all Kottke's fault.

Snood.

(I'm warning you now...don't download it, if you've got any real work you need to do.)

There's also a very interesting post on Snood and its ilk (think Tetris, Bejeweled, etc) on Greg Costikyan's blog. It addresses the question of why--when they're so obviously popular--games like these get so little respect.

So, now I've explained my absence, and provided the obligatory techno-link. Amazing. And on that note, I return to my obsessive Snood-shooting.

standard operating procedure

Interesting discussion on standards happening on my web design class blog. Worth reading.

bear necessities

I'm beginning to think I must be part bear.

It would explain a lot.

When the weather turns cold, I start to eat too much (mostly unhealthy, fattening foods). I stop exercising, and want to sleep a lot. I get cranky. (Really cranky.) Getting out of a warm bed in the morning becomes a herculean task.

Clearly, my body thinks I should be hibernating.

And tonight I'm starting to feel like the stomach bug that struck my family over the holidays has finally caught up with me. Blech. So now to bed. To sleep, perchance to dream. Or perchance to heal, which would be even better.

wish list

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Jeneane is getting a Sidekick from Amazon ($50 after rebates, same monthly cost as my current phone) and I'm really jealous. But there's no way I can afford to spend the $250 up front before the rebate checks come in (nor, to be honest, can I justify spending even $50 on a phone and mobile-blogging tool I don't really need, no matter how fabulous it might be), so I can only gaze longingly at the picture.

And Kottke points to the iTrip, a way cool iPod accessory that I'd also love:

The iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod can play your music through any FM radio in your car, at a party, wherever the mood strikes you - and you have a radio.

There are times when being a single-income household is frustrating. I know we're doing the right thing for the kids by having my husband stay home with them--he's a room parent, an active cub scout parent, and home when they get off the bus every day. But I do find myself coveting some of the luxuries that people bringing home two incomes can afford. I know I'm just whining, and that I should (and do, I swear) feel grateful for how very much we have, and how blessed we are by our good health and comfortable lives. But hey, this is negativity week, so I'm letting my dark side hang out for a bit. It'll pass.

girls and computers

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Dave Winer pointed to a NY Times article from Sunday entitled "Where the Girls Aren't," and chose the opening line as his quote:

Anyone who has ever tried to pry a girl offline knows that girls like computers. They just don't understand how they work.

Ack! Okay, I'm as aware as anyone of the shortage of women in the profession, especially after years of fewer than 10% women in my classes, and writing a grant proposal this year to try to understand and address the problem. But still--that quote sticks in my craw.

So I read the rest of the article, and felt better. For example, they talked to a woman who's been teaching math in high schools for 30 years:

''When I started in 1972,'' she said, ''there were three girls in calculus out of a senior class of about 50. Now there are three sections of Advanced Placement calculus, in a class about the same size -- in other words, about 75 percent of the senior class. This would not have happened if we had bought into the reigning mantra of the time, which was, 'Boys are naturally interested in mathematics; let them do it. Girls are more talented in literature and history; why ask them to change?' ''

I remember taking AP Calculus in 1979. I had been in advanced math classes every year in high school, and since at the time the school systems wouldn't let you take calculus 'til senior year, during junior year I took the two half-year courses offered to advanced students--Abstract Algebra in the fall, and Matrix Algebra in the spring. They were both taught by a teacher who managed to systematically weed out most of the girls in the class by the end of the year. He would humiliate girls in the class, ridicule them when they answered questions wrong, ignore them when they were right, and regularly tell us that we really weren't cut out for studying math. (Years later, I heard that same teacher was fired after his affairs with male students were discovered. No big surprise there--plenty of us had seen him taking students on "dates" to hockey games. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.)

I stuck it out through junior year, and enrolled in his AP Calculus class senior year. I lasted half the year. When I got my early acceptance letter from Michigan, I realized that I could live with the automatic "F" I'd get from withdrawing from the class more easily than I could live with the class. So I quit. It was only the second time my parents had to go to the school on my behalf (the first time is worth another blog entry at another time).

That wasn't really the end of it, though. The experience left me thoroughly convinced that I wasn't good at math. And that became a self-fulfilling prophecy--I barely made it through the required calc class in college, and avoided anything that looked like math or science. (This from someone who in her junior year of high school was convinced she was going to be an industrial engineer.) It wasn't until after my master's program, when I started thinking about a PhD, that I finally faced up to my math fears and conquered them. Turns out I'm pretty good at math after all. But it took fifteen years to undo the damage that one teacher caused.

So how much damage is done every time we assume that "girls aren't interested" in how computers work? How much of that comes from the early conditioning, the toys we give our children, the activities we encourage them to get involved in? Cub scouts build pinewood derby cars to race, learning physics and geometry in the process. (My kids are racing theirs on Saturday.) But do Brownies? Probably not.

Uh-oh. I'm starting to rant. Time to sleep.

blog drain

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I don't have blog clog. That would imply that there's lots in my head waiting to trickle--or rush--out of my fingers, onto the keyboard, into the blog. Instead, I have blog drain. The content drains off the bottom of the blog into the archives. The energy drains out of me, and there's empty space everywhere.

Sometimes space is good. Sometimes it calms, cleanses, provides breathing room. That's the kind of space that's like open fields, or fresh fallen snow. But sometimes space is bad. It's an empty, dusty warehouse. Or a basement of a house that's been moved out of, with the unwanted items strewn around. That's the kind of space in my mind today. Not so good.

I recently moved into yet another new office (six in six years--the itinerant instructor, that's me). I've got it down to a science now. I can pack my books and belongings (and there are a *lot* of books--one of the great perks of being a prof is getting free books from publishers) in under 3 hours. (21 boxes this time, plus all the breakable/valuable stuff I lugged home temporarily) And I've learned that when it's time to move back in, I have to do it just as fast. I hate being surrounded by half-unpacked boxes, hate the feeling of not quite settled, hate the impersonal feel of an office that hasn't got pictures of and gifts from my kids, goofy magnets, and comforting stacks of books and papers.

So I'm unpacked in the physical world, but somehow I still feel not quite settled in my mental world, in my blog world, in my head. Don't know why that is. But I'm restless, uneasy, uncentered. Maybe writing about it will help. Maybe not.

And now, back to my list of things I don't want to do.

negativity

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Things I don't want to do today, but don't have much choice about...

  1. Grade projects
  2. Prepare class materials
  3. Go outside (it's really cold out there)
  4. Wait for a tenure decision (due at the end of February)
  5. Call my old hosting company (CIHost) to argue about billing errors
  6. Call the pediatrician about my younger son's persistent cough
  7. Laundry
  8. Return phone calls
  9. Blog
  10. Answer e-mail
  11. Open my door

Seasonal affective disorder? Or just all-around crankiness? You be the judge. (Saw a bumper sticker I loved last week--"I'm not just A bitch--I'm THE bitch. And that's *MISS* bitch to you." -- or, in my case, *Dr.* Bitch...)

the detroit project

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I don't usually jump on the daypop bandwagon and hype a web site unrelated to my usual topics. But I'm making an exception for Arianna Huffington's new endeavour: The Detroit Project.

The idea for this project came to me while watching -- for the umpteenth time -- one of those outrageous drug war ads the Bush administration has flooded the airwaves with. You know, the ones that try and link using drugs to financing terrorism. Instead of shaking my head in disgust and reaching for the Mute button like I usually do when I see these ads, I decided to channel my indignation. Why not turn the tables and adopt the same tactics the administration was using in the drug war to point out the much more credible link between driving SUVs and our national security?

The two ads that are already available (in RealPlayer format) have been refused as "public service spots" by some television stations, but your donation can help to get them on the air.

rethinking our graduate program

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I'm part of a group of people in our department who are beginning to rethink our graduate program, and where it could/should go. It began as a "career-changers" program, because there were no undergraduate programs in IT for it to build upon. But as we--and the field--have matured, there's a growing need for in-depth, graduate level study in more focused areas than what our current program offers.

So the question becomes what, exactly, we want to be teaching. And along with that, what are we best at? And what students do we want? And who will their employers be? And what will those employers expect? Lots of questions, really. But lots of enthusiasm about exploring them.

We've got a number of areas that we're particularly enthusiastic about exploring, many of them related (directly or indirectly) to what many people seem to be calling "social software." We've got lots of strength in HCI, information architecture, XML, web development, game programming, VRML, multi-user media spaces, etc. So how can we knit that into a coherent graduate program?

So, faithful readers, what do you think? What kinds of graduate programs are missing right now? What niches need to be filled? What kind of program would you want to hire someone out of? What kind would you want to attend yourself if you could? I'd love to leverage the expertise of the blogosphere on this question, especially right now during the formative stages of this discussion...

updated 4:40pm
Dorothea asks in her comment for a pointer to our current program. Should have thought to include that to begin with. We've got a "purpose and goals" page, as well as a list of courses in the program. Also, fwiw, here's one to our faculty "research interests."

uselessness

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This quote was at the beginning of a chapter in a book on XSLT I'm currently reading:

This is indeed a useless tree. This is why it has grown to such a height. The wise should take this as an example. -Zhuang Zi

Lovely.

by any other name...

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My lecture tomorrow morning on Information Architecture will begin with a recitation of Juliet's speech from Romeo and Juliet. I learned it in high school (didn't everybody have to commit a Shakespearean soliloquy to memory at some point in their education?), and can still rattle it off at will.

What's the connection? Naming, of course. Do names matter? If so, how? That will be the primary topic of discussion. We'll also discuss product categories on the Lego site, which always stirs up some interesting conversations.

I always look forward to this class--more than any other lecture I give, it brings together my library and web backgrounds, and lets me push my students into thinking a bit more than I usually require them to do.

local journalism: "midwives to the dying"

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Took the boys to Starbucks today (their choice...not that I'm complaining). Picked up a copy of the local City Paper, which I love. Wish they had their content online, but they don't. (Updated 1/3; thanks, Michael!) The cover story was entitled "Midwives to the Dying," and was based on interviews with a doctor, a nurse who runs a small hospice, and a pastor.

The whole story was wonderful, but the interview with the nurse, Kathie Quinlan, was really moving. It got me to think a little differently about the process of dying, and the inevitable loss of the people I love. (Which has been on my mind lately, even more so after reading about Gary Turner losing his dad.

We need to educate about death, just as we've done so beautifully with birth education. Dying is not something to be shunned. In our society, we resist dying. We deny it. We defy it. The greater percentage of the health care dollar is spent on futile end-of-life measures that desecrate the process of dying, not allowing it to be lived in a comfortable, dignified, reverent manner. We know so well that dying can be lived fully and beautifully. Yes, painfully. I would never attempt to romanticize death or to diminish the anguish. But within that anguish there is the potential for transformation for the whole family.

and further...

All along that way, we are givin them every medication we can for their symptoms, always assuring them they won't be alone. In that inward journey toward the work of spirit, the work of soul, going deeper and deeper into oyourself, your center, your spirit. Getting ready to let go of that is an incredible effort. You don't have the energy to keep relating to even those dearest around you.   Oftentimes, the waiting seems interminable. Clincally we may see no reson why the person continues on, and yet they do. The permission to die is so important. And we will suggest at teh eend, ever so gently, "Have you told your mother, hyave you told your child, that it's all reight to go when she is ready?" The person will say, "How could I ever say that?"   I tell them you can't rehearse this. You just sit beside the bed and speak from your heart. She may be waiting for that. [...] Sometimes families tell us they don't know what to say to the dying. I tell them to go in and shut the door and reminisce, tell family stories. Of course they can hear. The hearing is the last of the senses to depart.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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