Monday, December 12, 2011

On Diverging Energies and the End of the Year

Seattle has been absolutely beautiful lately. Crisp, cool air. Blue skies. Little rain. This was excellent news as I bounded out of my house yesterday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, to participate in my first organized 5k. With the support of 2 wonderful friends, we donned our Jingle Bell gear (mostly just bright hats and tinsel, along with a symphony of small bells attached to other runners' shoes). I finished the race in 30 minutes, which was my goal (if I had one?), and felt completely energized. I began 2011 with a goal of running a 5k, (among other goals), and now I've done it! (Un)fortunately, I also told myself that if I successfully did a 5k without too much trouble, that I would sign up for a sprint triathalon. One of my running buddies was completely on board with this idea, and so now I suppose that is my new goal. Sprint tri this summer...

As I'm writing about this accomplishment, I catch myself thinking, "elyse, this doesn't have much to do with scholarship or activism, come on..." Ah! Exactly. I am searching and exploring ways to find synthesis and overlap of my own energies. I have never thought of exercise or activity as a way to define myself. It was actually a huge insecurity of mine when I arrived in this hyper-fit city. But now, with some personal goal setting and encouragement of friends, I am happy to think of myself as active and someone who enjoys physically activity. This is another aspect then of how to achieve balance in my life. My whole life. Which includes my scholarship, which includes my activism. See how that works?

But this notion of energy is interesting. It is the end of the year, a time when things are seen to come to a close. We are encouraged to bring some finality to projects, check in with friends and family, take our pulse regarding our projects and goals. This happens in academia (time to apply for the PhD program, many theses and PhD Defenses, presenting my public scholarship portfolio), this happens in the non-profit world (appreciation parties, final fundraising pushes, PR campaigns galore), etc...

Amidst this seemingly inevitable energy (dare I say) vortex, I still find myself drawn to starting new things. Playing music with new people in new situations, running this race, budding relationships; I feel a definite pull towards many new things, even as the air around me is full of murmurs of wrapping up, creating closure and looking inward.

What does this mean for my scholarship and activism? In many ways, they have taken the back-burner, perhaps unwittingly because my energies are so divided right now in both inward and outward looking ways. I also haven't been in touch with SYGW in a while, which feels strange. And, since I transcribed the interviews for my fieldwork, they have sat on my desk looking lonely, but as of yet, not commanded my attention. I have a huge pile of books that have sat on my desk for the entire quarter, their pages longingly wanting to be opened. Instead, at least in the last 3 weeks, I have focused on grading and my TA-ship, very much at the expense of my own work. I did successfully present my public scholarship portfolio (which can be accessed here).

Here, though, I want to be careful. Graduate school has too much of a tendency to make us feel beaten down about how little we are doing, rather than celebrating how much we are accomplishing. My pursuits of late have been incredibly positive for me, contributing to how situated and comfortable I feel in Seattle. They are contributing to feelings of community, feelings of hope and inspiration for collaboration, and general reminders of how lucky I am to be living here, getting support to pursue precisely what is of interest to me. So, perhaps the lack of structure this quarter meant I was not as productive as I "should" have been. On the flip side, I am returning East in a week with a more renewed, refreshed and positive outlook on my time here in Seattle than I've yet had. I have spoken with my other MA colleagues about how we must stay on track and support one another to finish our theses in the spring. I want that process to feel collaborative, even though we are all writing our own projects.

Of course, in writing this, I'm feeling like I'm somehow excusing myself for the abysmal amount of reading I accomplished this quarter. That is rather embarrassing, yes. But, what's done is done, and now I have to move forward, embracing the fact that indeed, the way I live my life is going to inform my scholar-activism. The more balance I can achieve, the more people I communicate and collaborate with, the more I can support my own healthy lifestyle, and the more I can bring compassion to others will all lead to a richer engagement with community organizations and social movements.

On a closing note, it is worth mentioning that today is a historic day here in Seattle, and along the West Coast, as the #Occupy movement is positioning the West Coast Port Shutdown. I decided that I needed to support my students (who I felt I did not support enough earlier in the quarter), and will be holding office hours this afternoon. I feel incredibly torn about this, and would really much rather be at the Port Shutdown. However, it is a choice I've made, and my 60 or so students (many of whom will NOT make use of this time), will at least have the chance to feel supported and well-prepared for their exam tomorrow.

To all my colleagues and friends that are going to the Port: be safe, be smart. This is a very exciting moment for Occupy to show that direct action can be more powerful, in some cases, than Occupation. It will be very interesting to see where this goes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Temporality and Research Choices

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend and participate in an 'unconference' called THATCamp. THATCamp started a few years ago, and seeks to be a participatory, informal conference about the humanities and technology. As someone who doesn't identify in either of those categories initially, I was drawn to this conference because the theme was narrowed to one of social justice. Ahha. An entry point!

With my very tech-y colleagues in tow, I came to this conference not knowing exactly what to expect. There was a large emphasis on gaming and video games as ways to teach social justice. Having not attended those workshops or sessions, I can say with confidence that I know as little now about what that means as when I went began the conference! Other topics included: gender, humanities, technology; technology and activism on the ground; "dusty" digital archives; new games, new spaces; developing curriculum; pedagogy (formal/informal), GIS and the geoweb, and then a variety of workshops: fast-mapping, community archiving using Omeka, and then 2 workshops of games that I can't recall.

As a token geographer in the 'geoweb' group, I had an interesting moment of performativity. I have not often felt like I had a lot in common with Sarah's other advisees. However, I could hold my own in a room of people that didn't know much. I answered questions, I provided interesting prompts. One of my colleagues even said in response to my comment, "I'm still so new to all of this", "well, Elyse, you wouldn't know!" How encouraging! To a room full of non-geographers, questions of mapping, access, expertise, curricular development, privacy, maintenance, legitimacy, accuracy, and potentials for social change were new and exciting. I suddenly wore the hat of expert, even when discussing non-expert knowledge production. Hrm.

Another issue was raised that day, during the training on Omeka. Omeka is a web-based tool to allow for archiving of community material. Interestingly, it is designed by people that understand how scholars need to present their work as 'valuable' to committees and tenure reviewers. So, this is both meant to serve community histories and archives, but also meant to stand in as work that 'counts'. During this training, one of the organizers brought up questions of time. To really participate with a community in a way that avoids "hit and run research", we need to give it time to develop relationships. You cannot rush this part, and it could take . . . wait for it. . . years.

But wait a minute?! I thought we were supposed to finish our PhD in 4 years, right Sarah Elwood? Right Katharyne Mitchell?

How could I possibly invest the time and energy in my communities, in a way that isn't exploitative and not invasive, and still finish my PhD in a timely manner? Is this even a possibility? What am I giving up if I don't? Do I have to change my research question, or can I just act like it doesn't matter?

There is obviously a danger here of "paralysis by analysis". I want to do research, I want to proceed with the projects that are exciting to me. I want to do fieldwork, and I don't want to limit myself to reading, just because I can't make a longstanding commitment to an organization. One of the reasons this question of temporality is so interesting to me is because of questions of knowledge production and technology. In my vision of my dissertation work, I see this: an interactive multimedia website, with videos (when condoned by youth), audio tapes, written transcripts, alongside insights by community organizations about goals and programming. In this format, there is a huge question and issue of representation. In my mind, this project would allow organizations to better serve youth, by incorporating youth insights and knowledge. But, then the question is raised, how do I know that these youth even want this? Do they consider themselves in solidarity with youth from other parts of the country? How do young people of color and low-income youth in our country's cities consider their roles in shaping social change? Would a website like this accurately reflect their goals and wants? Or is it another case of the researcher sticking their nose in where it isn't wanted?

Ok, ok. Paranoid graduate student moment aside, these are all valid questions, and ethically MUST be considered before starting research. Then again, can't I also look back at this research motivation and know that it is for the greater good (whatever that means)? That part of the skill sharing and collaboration that comes from the university is the fact that I can take this outside perspective and try and garner a holistic vision of research with farther reaching impacts?

So, I left the conference fearful that I could never really be at peace, never be one of those deeply committed scholar-activists who has invested the time (at their own career's expense, perhaps), in order to really embrace their collaborative position within communities. Am I at odds with that potential self? I feel as though that's just not in my cards. I lack patience, I have too much ambition, and I also feel like it is an inauthentic version of my self. Maybe that's because I didn't grow up in diverse community that required listening and collaboration in this sense. I came to that quite late, in college, with few tools. I'm still building that toolkit, in fact. (aren't we all)

Well, there is no quick resolution to this point. I do know I don't want to be in graduate school for 10 years. No, no. That doesn't sound good at all. I suppose this is something to consider throughout my time here, to chew over and mull over and take guidance from people around me. But worth considering, all the same.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Some thoughts on #Occupy

My how the time flies -- it seems like just yesterday I said I would try and write every day. In fact, I proudly proclaimed this to colleagues and friends, that my newest exercise was just sitting down to write every day.

And somehow...

Well, better late than never. The past week was a strange one, for certain. A late night planning meeting with colleagues for the Cascadia Critical Geography conference; a roommate leaving for a 2 month fieldwork stint in Antarctica; dressing up as a farm-raised (insert vegetable or animal here), to get a $2 Halloween inspired Chipotle burrito. Not bad! But also, not many nights at home to sit and write.

Recently, I have definitely felt a tug between getting my work done, finding balance, and staying current in the lives of people near to me, but also more broadly in the incredible social movements sweeping our country right now. I am at a real loss for how to insert myself or contribute to this/these moment(s), and I'm fairly certain that many of my peers feel similarly.

Here's what I know about #Occupy in general, and why I am so excited about it. Here we are, after 3 years of financial crisis, but after 30 years of botched priorities, incredible growth in inequality, and heightened (though arguably less blatant) forms of oppression based on race, class, age, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, able bodies, etc, etc, etc.... And people are finally waking up to all of this, it seems. Yes, the last three years have really focused our nation's frustrations and concerns. But it seems like we won't be able to talk about the current situation without talking about the last three decades. And that is why I'm excited.

Here's what I know about my own actions: I partook in a march, and I'm on a few email / facebook groups. I bring it up in conversation with friends, and we debate and discuss. Sadly, that is all I can claim at the moment. I do not feel inspired or able to go and camp. I do not feel inspired to take a radical approach to this, (probably because, after years of activism, I have firmly recognized and accept the fact that while my politics might be 'radical', I am not radical.)

I know that I defend the Occupy movement in the face of peers who question it: (from a very liberal friend: "I just don't understand. This is dumb: young people, go get a freaking Americorps job. I did. It might not be glamorous, but they're out there." Me: "Um... that's not really what this is about...")

Yet I feel I hardly have the energy to open up each link that is posted to the facebook group for UW scholars with Occupy Seattle, (and there are many. Close to 5 a day.) I certainly don't have the energy to defend my non-radical stance to some that are intimidatingly radical (there is one particular individual who I have never met, but posts to this UW/OS facebook page quite frequently, and his posts alone alienate me). And, more than anything, I don't have the energy or desire or politics to go camp out at Seattle Central.

A new friend of mine last night was on their way to a Queers / Occupy meeting at SCCC. This was their first encounter with the movement head on, and they were a bit nervous, but also resigned to have low expectations. We both reflected on our up-t0-that-point lack, or little, involvement. This friend explained that they, "didn't want to look back on this historic moment and not have gotten involved." I think that is poignant, and makes sense to me. I am just not sure, at this moment, how I can make use of my own (limited) time (and energy), and contribute or stand with the occupiers.

Someone explained to me earlier this week that perhaps just making posters or going to a meeting might feel good. And it might. But in a quarter that involves finishing my fieldwork (a process that is wrapped up in plenty of its own political questions!), trying to find musicians to play with, trying to cook a lot of eat healthy, train for my first running race, take on extra grading, enjoy the fruits that seattle has to offer, TA, take on extra grading, begin the public scholarship program, apply for NSF funding, cultivate current and new friendships, take part in a graduate interest group, play IM volleyball, serve as grad student co-president, . . . . well. It just doesn't leave me a bounty of time, nor would I want to give up any of these things. They are all intentional uses of my time and energy, because I know that they actually prolong, sustain, and nurture my best self.

And right now, #occupyseattle seems like it would drain and damper that self.

* interestingly, as I finish up this post, I find it worth nothing that #OS hasn't come up in our public scholarship conversations at ALL. We did discuss it once in the GIG planning meeting, as a way to engage a very current, ever-changing public. But that is it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Framing for Public Scholarship

Today is just a gross day, in my opinion. I even turned the heat on at one point... but that is what I get for working from home for the day. Its creature comforts come at a price.

So, I am posting a draft of a piece I need to write for the Public Scholarship program at UW. We are supposed to articulate who we are as public scholars, and where we are going. Some of the references to my own archive won't make sense, but I would LOVE FEEDBACK. Please leave comments on direction -- I have a really hard time articulating myself with these things sometimes. Specifically, I'd like to know if my motivations come through, and if you get a clear sense of what is important to me as a scholar? I think that part is lacking. It is posted below. Thanks in advance!

Framing Essay Draft:

Laura Pulido, my scholar-activist role model, writes that, “how you combine scholarship and activism is linked to how you construct your life.” [1] This position rings powerfully true for me for a number of reasons. First, I have come to consider myself a public scholar after years of working with and for non-profit programs, and engaging in struggles for social, educational and food justice. Secondly, my academic life has never been particularly academic: while I can excel in school, I have never made ‘school’ the primary site and space in my life. I require my energies to be engaged outside of the walls of the university in order to feel fulfilled, and, in fact, to be the best scholar I can be. Finally, I am beginning to understand that the university / public binary is as porous and flexible in my own life as it is in intellectual debates about how to situate the university and academy.

As a relatively new graduate student, my diverse interests often draw guffaws from my colleagues. How could I possibly be involved in as many things as I am, and still “get my work done?”. Well. As mentioned above, I am learning to navigate the dialectical spaces between ‘university’ and ‘publics’. My university life perforates, interweaves, and contradicts my ‘other’ life in fascinating and generative ways. Through music, I am able to write and engage a part of my brain that pushes my creative potential, and allows me to quiet the analytical part of my brain. Collaborating with musicians also influences and feeds into the way I approach scholarship: put the group first, and it [the work] will always sound and feel better. As Kobayashi argued at a pivotal turn in feminist geography, speaking to the power and politics of collaboration, we need to consider “who speaks with whom, and how?”[2] As a cook, I think about where food comes from, how it nurtures my own body, and how it can be used to bring people together. This emerges in my scholarship as I strive to bring people together to collaborate, share ideas in new ways, and produce new, diverse publics through conversation and engagement. Finally, I am constantly trying to build community in and out of the university. While I admire my colleagues for their insight and analysis, it is equally important to me to engage with folks outside of the university. Is this not the best barometer for what diverse publics think about? Working with and through community allows me to see how my scholarly ideas resonate with those not affiliated with the university. It also raises questions about future collaboration, new venues for displaying my work, and new perspectives to pursue in my own work.

Now, Pulido might be referring to leading a rich, if sometimes frenetic life (like I appear to be living!). But, I would argue her words are meant to reflect the ways that we place ourselves in the spaces of activism and social struggle. She states that the ways we engage with community organizations and social justice work will directly influence the type of scholarship we engage in. From her perspective, fully immersing oneself will lead to a more accountable, and more reciprocal relationship with organizations and movements. Additionally, Pulido challenges the assumption that one’s contribution to organizations be in a purely academic form. Sometimes, we need to just ‘be a reliable supporter/member who could provide whatever assistance was needed.”[3]

Aside from my diverse interests mentioned above, the way I construct my life around activism will be and has been at the core of my work as a public scholar. Through involvement with a wide array of organizations, I have come to question the ways in which non-profits speak to and serve diverse publics of their own, and the ways that their more ‘public’ voices often contradict and push back against actual lived experiences of the individuals that make use of and are targeted for programming.

A number of my portfolio documents already speak to this commitment to non-profits and social justice work. I also propose new collaborative projects that will challenge my own assumptions about publics (as ones I work with), and publics/audiences. In “Open Arms”, I write about the ways that this organization appeals to its volunteers and fosters a space for active citizenship. This artifact documents my first “scholarly” engagement with a non-profit; through participant observation and qualitative interviews, I was able to uncover volunteers’ feelings about the organization and their motivations for volunteering. Following this piece, my letter of intent for the Public Scholarship Certificate explains how I have begun to question and challenge the dichotomy between my identity as a graduate student and as a community member in organizations. I see the public scholarship program as a way to more clearly articulate this ‘split’ identity, and how to best make use of my skills, motivations, energies and ‘social capital’, as Pulido writes. My letter of intent frames how I saw myself starting out as a budding public scholar, and also draws heavily on my previous contributions. Finally, “Community Gardening – Research Proposal” is an artifact of my first attempt at articulating my research interests in a formal proposal. This is an interesting artifact for two reasons: 1) I was writing to a new public: that of the review committee. I had to craft my proposal in a way that conveyed my motivation and commitment to public scholarship but in language that ‘made it count’; 2) in thinking through a budget, work timeline and interview scripts, I had to think specifically about the methodologies I would have to employ, as a scholar engaged with non-profits and their participants. Up to this point, collaboration had felt more theoretical. In writing this proposal, the realities began to hit home.

Now, there are additional artifacts that I can draw from that speak back to Pulido’s insistence that sometimes service work, and providing ‘whatever assistance is needed’ is the best use of our resources and energies. “Urban Farm Map” and “Spatial-Jobs Mismatch” are both demonstrations of artifacts that emerged by using more quantitative skills, like GIS and spatial analysis. From a pedagogical perspective, the teaching I did with Admission Possible (lesson plan), the Community Design Center of MN, and Mapping Youth Journeys all document more of a praxis oriented scholarly engagement. In teaching about food systems, college access, and spatial injustice, I was able to inspire critical thinking and raise questions about access and equality.

Pulido’s words lead to only one question for me: where do I go next? I’ve been very intrigued by new digital media and digital scholarship. Sharon Daniels work “Public Secrets” is a brilliant project that allows the viewer to create their own non-linear narrative, (as opposed to those of documentaries, articles, presentations, etc.) This idea of allowing a public to emerge through the work is incredibly powerful, and has far greater implications for transformative social change. I would love to learn more about multiple ways of producing and sharing knowledge with and for diverse publics.

Finally, to me, living where I work is of utmost importance. While many geographers look ‘outwards’, I feel more comfortable and accountable by doing work with the communities I live in and engage with. For me, this means working towards educational justice, food justice, and a more public and critical attention to youth voices. Through my work with Seattle Youth Garden Works, I will develop a pilot program of collaboration and recommendations. Through interviews with youth, collaboration with leadership, and digital media, I hope to provide recommendations that capture the voices of youth in the program. By taking their knowledge seriously, I use my skills and resources as a graduate student to improve the programming to more accurately reflect the needs of youth. Ideally, I would love to create an interactive website and database that would allow non-profits to share their insights and inputs from youth.

At this specific time and place, I am still creating space for myself in a relatively new city, building relationships across disciplines, diverse publics and communities. I have much political work and also ‘soul-searching’, (as many feminist geographers write) ahead of me, before I will feel comfortable with how I’ve constructed my life as a graduate student, musician, activist and community member.

[1] Pulido, L. 2008. Frequently (Un)Asked Questions about Being a Scholar Activist in Engaging Contradictions: Theories, Politics and Methods of Activist Scholarship. Ed: Charles R. Hale. University of California Press. p. 346

[2] Kobayashi, A. 1994. Coloring the Field: Gender, “Race”, and the Politics of Fieldwork. The Professional Geographer 46(1) 73-80.

[3] Pulido, 356

Monday, October 24, 2011

Food Day?

Apparently today was Food Day, a national endeavor to push for more healthy, 'real food', including the Real Food Challenge, seen across.

This is an interesting event for me for a number of reasons. Namely, four years ago, I probably would have been a lead organizer at Macalester for this event. Today, I was practically apathetic. Were it not for the delicious looking and tasting free treats that they were handing out on Red Square, I probably would have walked right by. Additionally, in the last few years, the meanings of 'real food' have changed for me. Or, at the very least, they are more complicated than I thought they were a few years ago.

Real food, as I now know, is incredibly culturally, geographically, and economically specific. To one person, a hot bowl of pho from a shop on the Ave is as real as it gets, while others might want Kraft mac and cheese; a hot dog, empanadas, sambusas, collards, etc etc. Our associations with real food are not only a huge product of our upbringing (duh), but also with where we are situated at that time and place. Will I likely ever consider vegan cheese real food? Probably not. Even if it meant that animals were spared in the creation of that product, it is still, to me, a product. And, as I've gotten more confident in the kitchen (and in life??), I try to avoid things that could only be labeled 'products'. I prefer working with produce. If my refrigerator isn't filled with vegetables, I usually think it looks quite drab and empty. In fact, other than milk and cheese (real cheese!), the occasional hummus, and a variety of leftovers (oh, and some cultured buttermilk that my roommate got for 'baking'. He's used it once), my fridge pretty much ONLY has produce!

So, given these personal convictions about cooking, not to mention my intense love of feeding people around me and building community through food, why am I not more vocal and supportive of Food Day? Why did it come and go with hardly a moment's notice?

The 'mission' of food day, from their website, is this: Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. We will work with people around the country to create thousands of events in homes, schools, churches, farmers markets, city halls, and state capitals.
Perhaps it is the blatant lack of attention to any power dynamics; perhaps it is the fact that this movement still screams whiteness and privilege to me; perhaps it is just that I have 500 other things on my mind right now, and I've come to peace with approaching 'real food' less from an activist perspective, and more from the comfort of my own kitchen.

Either way, I appreciate people that are pushing Food Day, for what its worth. We DO desperately need to change our nation's food system. It is systematically ruining local ecosystems, polluting people's bodies, and forfeiting other nations' (not to mention our own small farmers') chances of competing in a 'free' market. I could mention at least a dozen other problems, but if you've paid any attention to popular press and Michael Pollan over the last ten years, you know the deal.

Perhaps this awareness is one signifier that I need to walk the walk. Yes, I support local foods, but I also live on a grad student budget and cannot afford the farmers market every week. Yes I support sustainable agriculture, but I currently like economic justice is slightly more important. And, yes, I support slow food and local activism, but I am trying to produce a thesis and have my hands dirty with other work right now. But, that is a lot of 'but's. I am sure that there are ways that I can engage more productively with the struggle for a healthy, sustainable and JUST food system. I certainly believe in it. I just need to find a path that allows me to be true to where I'm at politically, intellectually and productively. It certainly leaves me with something to chew on... (dad, that pun's for you).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

transnational feminist praxis

I finally understand a bit more about the type of work my colleague Amy is undertaking!

I am soon off to bed, but wanted to include a quote that is food for thought in thinking through my own work, and what type of politics I want to adopt in my work. The following is from Richa Nagar and Amanda Swarr's collaborative transnational feminist praxis.

[we were trying to] conceptualize feminist collaboration as an intellectual and political practice that allows us to grapple with the possibilities and limitations of theory as praxis and insists upon problematizing the rigid compartmentalization that separates research from pedagogy, academic from activist labor, and theorizing from performative arts.

During the first public scholarship colloquium, Gillian Harkins explained that 'the university doesn't like us to give away our labor for free", as we are often seen to do in the form of 'activist labor' mentioned above. But, as an individual person, how can I draw a line between my activist work, when it is 'for the university' or 'for the community'? The work should, ideally, speak for itself. Perhaps this is another way to see ourselves as a scholar-artifact.

Anyway, it's a good quote to chew on, and were it earlier in the day, I would likely have more to say about it. I can say this: it is infinitely easier to read about this stuff than to actually do it. But the doing is what its all about...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On a day well spent

While any day with a good idea is a good day, sometimes good days are also just days with very few low moments.

Today was such a day. I started with a brisk bike ride, sat in a highly entertaining Matt Sparke lecture, met with a delightful student, and then checked in with my fellow co-president about department news.

I got some reading done, had a snack, enjoyed lunch, caught up on a highly amusing Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart railed on mainstream media for their approach to #OWS. Had a productive meeting, did some reading, and caught up with a friend on the phone. Wasted only a small amount of time ogling over the new iPhone, and ended the day at the gym with a much needed, though short, workout.

Finally, the super amazing Geo-Servers (intramural geography volley ball team) played a great game with great spirit and incredible improvement from our last game! I ended up the night with a bike ride home, (though this one less refreshing, and more just sticky and gross after leaving the gym), to eat dinner, enjoy a hilarious episode of Modern Family, and make some cardamom snickerdoodles for a colleague and neighbor.

No good ideas today, but still a great day.