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Updates: November 6 - January 4, 2022 - Lara L. Schenck

Updates: November 6 – January 4, 2022

Final chili harvest, PhD applications…complete!, learning Nepali, sort-of learning data science, and racial justice-related links.

Two containers full of small green chili peppers

January 4, 2022:

I am starting a language learning habit where I record myself saying one sentence in Nepali each day, then I can look back and see how much better I’ve gotten. I made a private site for it called Ma Nepali Sikchu (“I Learn Nepali”) and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up from my phone, and it has an Instagram-like interface for posting videos! Dherai sajilo (“very easy”).

Also, I’m assembling a small group to go through Radical AI’s Technology and Power curriculum. If this is something you’re interested in, let me know.

Two blog posts I 1000% promise I will write this month are 2021 Year in Bullet Points and I applied to Ph.D. programs! Here’s how I did it.

January 3, 2022:

It’s time to start on my annual, fashionably late year in review post. I’ve had an extremely restful holiday break and am feeling some inertia in getting back to spending time on the computer.

I listened to this episode of On Being with Katherine May about wintering, and I like this concept very much. I am definitely wintering right now, though I do have ideas brewing and energy slowly building for things to come.

December 22, 2021:

I enjoyed reading this article by adrienne maree brown.

December 16, 2021:

I’m trying to find the right resources for learning about working with data…and I’m not finding it. The resources I’ve tried so far (a smattering of Youtube videos and LinkedIn Learning courses) are either too general, too much for people who want to become data scientists, or too much for people who want to use data in their business. I think I’m looking for a resource that is for people that have some technical knowledge and want a deeper understanding, perhaps to use data science in personal projects or to recognize patterns in the wild. I’m wondering if what I’m really looking for is general knowledge about statistics, so I’m going to try out some of these Youtube playlists next.

(1 hour later) I got bored with those, too. I’ve decided to try building something and am currently setting up NLTK in Python and following this tutorial. It’s possible that videos just aren’t my preferred learning medium.

December 15, 2021:

I started using an app called stoic that I found via a search on the App Store for a habits tracker. It’s a mental health tracking app, and I like it so far. You can even export your data as JSON – the inability to export data is usually what disqualifies this sort of app for me.

(Update 1/4/22 – I don’t think I’ll use this app anymore. It felt really important to share at the moment, and now I’m feeling very “meh” about this sort of product.)

December 14, 2021:

7/7 Ph.D. applications submitted!!!

Next up on my reading list is What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri. Yesterday I listened to her on this podcast interview, and I am looking forward to reading the book.

Also related – this video, Geographies of Racial Capitalism from Ruth Wilson Gilmore:

December 12, 2021:

In each of my Ph.D. applications, I have a paragraph about what I will do specifically in that program. Inspired by a conversation with a Ph.D. student who shared great advice, I came up with this sentence formula:

My experience with (a qualification I want to highlight) positions me to extend (person I want to work with)’s work in (general field), for example, to (research idea).

It might end up being a very long sentence that needs to be broken up, but it’s been a very useful starting point for me.

December 10, 2021:

Procrastinating a little…again…but I’m doing the sort-of important work to update/review my web presence to make sure it reflects my current self. I think I will make a quarterly calendar reminder to do this.

I feel like I’ve finally figured out a web publishing system for myself that is not damaging to my mental health, and the main ingredient is no social media. I haven’t logged in to post from Twitter since June 28, 2020, and I think this is the first time I’ve reviewed my Twitter feed and not felt embarrassed and mortified. Actually, I felt proud. The feed consists of blog posts that are generally well-thought-out, Buffer posts that I write and publish 1-2 weeks later, and very selective retweets.

Big accomplishment! Of course, this kind of workflow would not work for everyone – just have to mention that.

December 9, 2021:

I am procrastinating a bit on finishing my applications, and the photo of myself on the homepage was very out of date, so I created a new one. I can’t decide if it’s intriguing and fun or a little creepy? I’ll go with the former and work on my applications.

Three illustrated monsters peeking from the corners of the image looking at a photo of a white woman with brown hair drinking a cocktail. The photo is in a frame and the monster on the right is thinking, "Who's that?"

December 8, 2021:

5/7 applications submitted! Quickly compiled some projects into a Portfolio page, too. Also, at work, we officially launched our first implementation of Gutenberg blocks in the form of modular landing pages. Oh yeah, and I got married! 😊

December 2, 2021:

Submitted my applications for four Ph.D. programs! Three more to go. Taking a break this weekend. I feel simultaneously proud and nauseous when I think about my statements.

The chili saga is not over. This is “piro achar” or “khursaniko achar”. Achar is like a Nepali pickle or salsa. This was made by my very-soon-to-be mother-in-law with some assistance from me (mainly by way of growing the chilis). Key ingredients, apart from chilis, are mustard oil, fenugreek seeds, lemon/lime juice, and deep-fried ginger and garlic.

A bowl of red and green chili peppers mixed with other brown ingredients. it looks very spicy!

November 23, 2021:

I am working hard on my applications. I was looking for a distraction from writing, and I came here. Alas, all that I find is more writing to do!

November 15, 2021:

A basket of jalapeños and a large pot of small green and red chilis on a kitchen countertop
The final chili harvest!

November 6, 2021:

I had an “Aha!” moment today while watching this video from Felienne Hermans, “What is computer science?”. She gives a beautiful explanation of why computer science is often considered to be so narrow – it’s because people assume it to be like the natural sciences, where we can’t control what things are/how they work, but it’s also very much like the humanities and social sciences since computing is a human invention.