Deprecated: Hook custom_css_loaded is deprecated since version jetpack-13.5! Use WordPress Custom CSS instead. Jetpack no longer supports Custom CSS. Read the documentation to learn how to apply custom styles to your site: in /home/members/lnfnmo/sites/ on line 6078
Updates: January 4 - February 16, 2022 - Lara L. Schenck

Updates: January 4 – February 16, 2022

An active month of updates – many content shares, Florida, and half-baked thoughts.

This is content collected from updates posted to my Now page. This writing – in the posts and here – is kind of “uncut”, raw!

February 16, 2022

I am listening to Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race by Thomas Chatterton Williams. Lots to think about, and some perspectives I haven’t encountered so often.

February 14, 2022

Went on a trip to Miami for a few days last week.

On the plane home from Miami, I watched a couple of 20-minute documentaries for Black History Month that were available on American Airlines in-flight entertainment. They were excellent!

While in Miami, we went on a manatee safari and saw one manatee! We also saw many iguanas…

A white woman with brown hair wearing a blue visor, bright blue shirt, and a red life jacket sits in a blue and green kayak holding a padding. The kayak is on calm water and she is near some green, leafy trees. In the trees, the head and part of the body of a large, dinosaur-like lizard with its head out is visible.

Next to my head in this photo, you will notice a large iguana. On the safari we learned that iguanas are an invasive species in Florida – they are not native to the area, and the wild population started from an escaped iguana during the pet trade in the 1980s. They have no natural predators, are reproducing at an alarming rate, and their burrowing damages buildings.

Manatees, on the other hand, are endangered due to human interference e.g. motorized boats and feeding them. Their population is declining, and there are only like 5,000 of them left?! Our tour guide said we were very lucky to see one, and that he thinks manatee safaris might not be possible in the next 5-10 years.

We also learned about mangroves, the trees that you see in the photo. Their roots are super strong and it looks like they are on land, but it’s actually just the mangroves. They are important for protection from storms. The entire Florida coastline used to be mangroves, but now it is largely beachfront property. Florida is slowly sinking without the mangroves’ protection. Sink, Florida, Sink.

In other news, I am re-visiting some of the work I’ve done on a book. I’m thinking I might have enough content on my blog to start it. I have a blog post draft that publicly commits to it, and I might revisit that draft in the coming months.

Also, I will be registering for the Pittsburgh half marathon! The goal is to complete it and not re-injure myself.

February 8, 2022

For the previous two years, I’ve sponsored a word on Wordnik, and today I decided this will be a nice yearly tradition. I heard somewhere about a “word of the year” technique for intention/goal setting – my tradition is to codify my word selection with a sponsorship. So far, the words are:

2022 – soft
2021 – justice
2020 – chaos

We had a few clear and sunny days in Pittsburgh recently. Here are some photos from wintry runs with blue sky:

February 5, 2022

Interesting news in the Post Status newsletter this week – apparently there was a meeting at the White House of representatives from “critical” open source projects. WordPress (which powers 40% of the top 1 million websites) was not included. Attendees were invited based on an algorithm that determined a list of these “critical” open source projects – the algorithm only took into account data from Github. The majority of WordPress activity happens on Trac. Read the article here.

Also, I’m very inspired by the activity on There are full, online courses and opportunities for social learning via various online events.

February 3, 2022

Cool list of cool math books from Cathy O’Neil’s blog. I am listening to Weapons of Math Destruction on audiobook currently (well, not right this second, but in general).

February 2, 2022

I posted a tweet from Buffer today and soon after, I had a kind of meltdown. I have officially decided (for at least the third time) that using Twitter is too mentally taxing for me. As soon as I share something directly to Twitter (auto tweeting from my blog seems to be okay), my inner critic gives me an earful and any good mood I had takes a nose-dive. I don’t have any reason to tweet other than that I feel like I “should” in order to maintain my followers, and the mental anguish is just not worth it. One life lesson is to deeply question any thought that contains “should”.

In other news, I wrote the following for this post, but I felt like I didn’t want to include there for several valid reasons, so I’ll add it here:

If you don’t know what something is in documentation or in conversation, and if you feel safe doing so, ask for an explanation. If it doesn’t feel safe to ask, ask yourself why it doesn’t feel safe.

Depending on the answer to that question, consider intentionally pushing yourself to ask – it’s likely someone else has the same question and if not, someone new to the team will, someday, and asking could be a personal growth experience. That said, the unsafe feeling could also be indicative of deeper issues within an organizational culture, and that is not your responsibility. If it seems like that’s the case, take care of yourself, consider sharing your feelings with a trusted person, or consider finding a new role.

I learned about a post, Tailwind and the Femininity of CSS by Elaina Natario, and I was excited to see it.

February 1, 2022

Today, I feel quite repulsed by something I created about three years ago. I felt very strongly about something and encouraged others to feel strongly about it, too, but now I have a different perspective. Such is life.

Read this poem about the purchase of Wordle (which I only learned existed last week – also, I’m not really one for word games).

This talk from Dr. Ebony McGee is fascinating (her talk starts at 4:30):

Check out Dr. McGee’s book, Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation.

January 27, 2022

I decided to try out making these dates headings instead of italicized paragraphs.

I’m thinking about the best way to share some of the research papers I’ve read/am reading. There are so many good ones that are really shaping my interests and the way I think. I decided to start by keeping track of them on a Reading (Papers) page.

Oh yeah, and a few days ago I published my annual “Year in Review” style post for 2021. The next big post to work on is the “I applied to PhD programs and here’s how”, but I think I’ll take my time on that one and publish it once I get a bit further along in the process.

January 26, 2022

Definitely motivated again! And fully recovered from COVID. I don’t recommend it.

What a beautifully written series on CSS-Tricks, A Complete Beginner’s Guide to npm.

Started reading My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem – new knowledge changes our brains, and just one chapter in, I’m feeling that change already!

It’s been very snowy, which I enjoy (this would be very different if I needed to drive frequently; I don’t).

A snow covered small backyard with a yellow brick house in the background. The sky is grey and there is a small tree with no leaves. The image is a little blury because it was taken through a screen door.
Snowy backyard as seen through the back door screen – it is cold, so I didn’t open the door.

A house plant I thought was dying started to grow after I moved it closer to the window! Small joys are essential.

A plant with large green leaves in a blue ceramic pot next to a window. Small new leaves are circled in a red color.
New growth on a plant I thought was dying. It just needed sun, imagine that!

January 16, 2022

I’ve gotten re-motivated for the things I do that are not relaxing, so that’s good. It took a bit to ramp up again. The bad news is that I just tested positive for COVID which is frustrating because I’ve been very careful lately. Ah well. I’m not too sick yet but we’ll see.

In other news, assuming my COVID situation doesn’t worsen, I’m very excited to present about technology during a session led by Andre Jacobs at the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit next weekend. You can register for it here.

A couple of podcast episodes from the Radical AI podcast I really liked:

Also, I am watching this playlist on Youtube of bell hooks on cultural criticism and transformation. Two points/quotes from the slides in the videos: “Freedom and justice are connected to mass-based literacy” and “Transformation = Critical Thinking + Literacy”. I wonder, what does critical digital literacy look like, and how does someone learn it?

January 4, 2022

Just published an update! Current garden status:

A backyard with green grass and a garden that contains several dead plants. A tree with no leaves is in front of it.

Previous Now posts: