Welcome to the New Term

I live my life according to the academic year. This means the Fall term, Winter term, then the Summer term are my work cycles. A new term is right around the corner and I am thinking about what I want this term. I am going to refer to a previous post about my want to not glorify busy. Academics love lists. This includes explaining in an exasperated way that we are very busy, and then listing the number of items that we must get to before we go into the sun and sparkle like a Cullen vamp or worse yet, explode like a vamp in True Blood.

I am trying to have better work life balance and hope that I can continue this in the next term. What am I doing? I am taking special care to not check my phone the first thing in the morning, and this is a major coup. I will start with my stretches, coffee, and paper, and then get to the phone (this translates into checking my email accounts and Twitter feed). I do not know about you, but I can go down the social media rabbit hole and suddenly be late for the gym or to take my spawnlette to school. This past Spring, I was better at leaving emails and Twitter for last, and no one complained about email response times, and I bet my Twitter followers gave a sigh of relief to see fewer tweets.

By not glorifying busy, I might post/share that I got something done, but I am done with listing and trying to prove that I am busy. I know that I am and I know that you are also busy. I also am not engaging those conversations where it feels like a colleague online or in real life is glorifying busy. For Petra’s sake, those of us on the tenure track have: great job flexibility, a job, and yes, we have to teach and publish in order to keep our jobs. But, overall, we get paid to think and talk. I am not competing in the Busy Olympics and if you feel that you have to, you might want to re-think that. How do I model this, though? I have to tell myself to not respond so quickly to emails and not email colleagues during the weekend. I am trying to have better boundaries. I explain to my Teaching Assistants that emails over the weekend are meant to be thought of as a Monday morning email. I also schedule emails so that they are sent Monday-Friday during the workday. These smart devices keep us connected, but also do not allow us to have time off without feeling guilty.

The new term is starting and I am not going to feel guilty that my to-do list is long, as I chip away at it. But, my job’s priority is teaching and I promise to not phone that in, as students do not appreciate that. When they come to class, ready to discuss the readings, they want me there ready to teach and facilitate. I am ready. Oh, and I am not a Cylon. I am human and have to remember this…I am not a machine. Well, my daughter says, “How do you know? You could be a sleeper agent.” I am going to assume that I am not a Cylon.

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I took the above photo at the EMP in Seattle, Washington. It was part of a Battlestar Galactica exhibit. So say we all!

Reasons Why I Love(d) and Miss the Re-Imagined #BSG

How do I count the ways? I was recently in Seattle with my family and we visited the Experience Music Project for the second or third time. This time was primarily so we could visit the Battlestar Galactica #BSG exhibit. We were not disappointed. But, the exhibit did make me think about the exhibit and some of the reasons why the series resonated with me. The first point I need to add is that I had ear-marked the series as a Summer catch up, but then read a colleague’s interpretation of the series and decided that I needed to watch the series. There are some spoilers below, so please be warned. Spoiler Alerts.

I appreciate science fiction as a genre, but add to this a dystopic setting (future or past) and I am apt to find something interesting in the story. #BSG did not disappoint and it was filmed locally in Vancouver, BC. And, this caused some excitement to try to find places that looked familiar. And, I recalled from the earlier series that the Cylons really freaked me out, but these new Cylons–some were human! How could this happen. Well, I set out to find out with the re-imagined series.

The plot focuses on the last battlestar and rest of the fleet that survives an attack. What we find is that the Education Secretary becomes President (notice, not Prime Minister) of the surviving fleet, as they try to survive and find a new place (possibly Earth) to live. She leads the people to the best of her ability, but constantly finds herself in opposition to the military tactics at the hand of the Admiral. The characters prove interesting. We see that there are lots of strong women characters in the series and that the leads come from different ethnic backgrounds, as well.

The episodes, though, also touch on different topics that vary from understanding what it means to be human, to discussing war, religion, sexual assault, and feuds between different people to name just five rather quickly. Likewise, the series did so while entertaining the viewer. #BSG gave a new meaning to toasters and “what the frack.” Several social scientists have spoken to the series applying theories to certain episodes and I have had conversations about the issues of collective security and the responsibility to protect. That is, there is something there within the series that speaks to political philosophy and political science at large.

Because of all the things that I’ve shared rather quickly and incompletely, I miss the series. And, by this I do mean the re-imagined series. I did watch the original in the late 1970s with my two younger brothers, but only recall that it seemed rather cheesy. I was glad that Starbuck in the new #BSG was a woman with enough bravado for a few men. Starbuck embodies masculinity and militarism with her brash attitude and strength of character, but she is also human–she is flawed and her past haunts her. So many feminist viewers have identified with her.

The Cylons in this series are also “skin jobs”, since some of them are human looking and are sleeper agents and don’t know that they are Cylons until they switch. Then, of course, some are human looking and are well aware that they are Cylons. One of the interesting episodes is about Helena Cain–who offers the viewer another complicated woman. She is the captain of the Pegasus and when we find her it appears that this strong female leader has a thoroughly cruel streak. What is the viewer to make that the Cain has allowed a sleeper agent, (Gina a clone of Six) her former lover, to be broken and degraded by “any means necessary”? This is when some viewers might feel a sense of empathy toward her former lover, and then do a double take and think, “Wait, am I feeling bad for the toasters?” Right. Even typing that sentence made me smirk, since this might sound ridiculous to the uninitiated to the #BSG series. Well, hopefully this blog post wasn’t fracking rambling. So say we all.