Odin's Updates at January's Close

A new video, life updates, reading recommendations, and more!

Odin's Updates at January's Close
By John Henry Twachtman - http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=24339, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66390027

Hello there!

This week, I’ve got a new video for you from my MLIS series, this time focused on broader structure and how you can go about preparing yourself for a Master’s program.

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Even if you’re already nearing the end of your degree program, or struggling with your thesis, these tools and systems can fundamentally improve your experience. This is not just for students, however The skills I’ve trained myself in over the last few years are ones that you can use in any field, at any time.

I have a grand total of two articles for you this week, but I think both will prove interesting to you. The first is a great collection of underrated 1990s action films, and the other is a somewhat heady article on my experience encountering receptive vs. non-receptive communities in the world of creative writing.

Finally, I’m going to share a small snippet from an in-progress writing project! I’m so excited about this one, and I want to keep the momentum going this coming week.

I also have all the usual stuff from my web-space meanderings, so I hope you’ll find some of that interesting as well.

As always, feel free to leave comments! I love reading your interactions with what I write on here, and I try to always respond in a timely fashion. If you have questions about college, structure, organization, or the MLIS degree in particular-I’m more than happy to address those as they come in.


My WIP (an Excerpt)

There are no streetlights in this part of Parkland, California.

Hardly any streets to speak of, either, just old asphalt in need of repair.

Most of the Riviera neighborhood lies beneath the cement spires of the overpass network that tangles like giant gray brambles above the surface of the world.

But, beneath one of the great raised roadways, down among the old grasses, discarded trash, and cracked cement, a light is burning. This is not an orderly light, like a campfire’s chopped-wood blaze, but the sharp flickering of flames fed on trashheap scroungings.

An old metal flower planter, piled with scrap wood, bits of fabric, and rolled up paper nicked from recycling bins, chuckles merry flames. The five figures who encircle the fire’s warmth cast overlarge shadows on the spires of the overpass struts and across the old crabgrass-breached tar of a municipal parking lot long since gone to seed. One, a boy about twelve, shifts himself closer to a round old woman wearing a bright pink hat, who busily fills the others in on all the latest news…

My Life

What haven’t I been up to lately? Stressing. I have not not been stressing. 😂

This was my first full week of MLIS courses, which include the following:

  • Information Communities
  • Information Retrieval System Design
  • Online Learning
  • Information Professions
  • and a Database Foundations course via LinkedIn Learning

One of the cool things about all the work I did the last few months reading and preparing for this course, is that I’m at least topically familiar with a lot of the concepts coming up in these classes. That leaves me free to focus on the really meaty stuff, and some of the optional reading recommendations. Any of these courses could remain zoomed in on a basic level, but they are all “tip of the iceberg” experiences as well, and I’m loving being able to snorkel (and sometimes even scuba dive) along their depths.

I also completed a huge project for EveryLibrary, and this will mark the point where I sadly have to scale back the time that I offer that internship for a while. Fight for the First is an awesome idea, but it’s currently operating on top of really shoddy software. My work this week was to meet with a bunch of app and website designers to explore the possibility of making the new website more social and dynamic.

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I tend to give far too much to projects like this, so I have to set better boundaries from now on, as I move into more of my own work. I love what EveryLibrary is doing, but as an unpaid intern, I just don’t have the capacity to deal with the complications of a project that vast. At least… not right now. I’m excited about possibly returning later in my degree when I can get course credit for my work with EveryLibrary. We shall see.

Boundaries are something that have emerged a few times recently. In order to meet my own (somewhat lofty) goals, I’m having to set stricter limits on many aspects of my life - from work, to projects, and even to the time I spend with friends. Thankfully, most of the people in my life are incredibly understanding and supportive, and that makes all the difference.

At the same time, I’ve also had enough clear structure in my life to enable me to do more fun and spontaneous things! That’s the best side effect of building an organized life.

I went out with Katie to a friend’s birthday party this week, having made my schedule accommodate the time. And her birthday party was… laser tag. It was only eight minutes of fun, but it was so much fun. I’ve been wanting to do laser tag since I was a kid, and it was a blast!

I realized, however, that my instincts for the game were all wrong. I tried to not get hit, but (as there are no point penalties to getting hit) it makes more sense to just run around wildly and shoot as much as possible. I guess I’ll just need to buy my own laser tag system one of these days, muahahaha.

My darling wife, looking awesome and ready for battle. (She got “most accurate”).


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I deeply enjoyed His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik. This is the first in her Temeraire series. Read my short review of the book here!

I also started reading What We Owe to Each Other by Thomas Scanlon. A friend loaned me his copy and, while the work is dense enough to surely take me a mortal age (or two) to finish, I’m already loving it. It’s a very dense academic-style work, but the ideas are fascinating.

I’m also reading the draft of a friend’s novel, and it’s superb. I wish I had the time to sit down and devour it properly instead of in little random chunks.

Other Media

Katie and I rewatched Good Omens, which is just delightful. That came on the heel’s of the previous week’s binge of Neverwhere and all the (good) Discworld films. My favorite is Going Postal.

I’ve also been playing a bit of Minecraft every week with a friend! I never thought I’d get into it, but there you go. It turns out it’s actually a blast — especially when combined as a social hangout.


Most of my tech-attention has been on learning databases. Notion is a great tool that I’ve been learning the ins and outs of, and it’s holding a lot of the structure for my life up right now. I’m grateful for it, but also inherently displeased with its total lack of privacy and security. I mean, it doesn’t even have 2FA! I’m slowly exploring another app that might, in a year or so, be far enough out of alpha to replace Notion, and I’ll let you know more about that as it comes.

Other Life stuff

A BIG part of my writing and thinking time has been taking up with essays and applications for scholarships. Paying for school out of pocket is impossible, and I already have around 80k in loans, so adding on more really sucks. But, if I can get some scholarships and grants, maybe there’s a path forward for me that’s financially stable! Who knows?

I’m also trying to apply to the Odyssey workshop this year, which requires a big application because I’d need pretty significant financial aid to attend (the program is around $2200). I want my writing career to take off amid all my other projects, and Odyssey excites me… but it’s a lot of extra load to add to the start of a busy semester.

From the Web

“You could see Covid-19 as an empathy test,” begins this superb article in The Guardian. “As rich people plough money into ventilation to protect themselves, those with long Covid are treated as an embarrassment.”

It makes superb arguments for clean air initiatives to fight disease, but one of the most striking paragraphs is: “I’m not suggesting that everyone who fails to wear a mask on public transport fails the empathy test. That would now condemn almost the entire population. But, without direction from the government and the cultural shift this could provoke, even the kindest people end up behaving as if they have no regard for others.”

If you’d prefer a deep dive into the problems with junk science in the United States legal system, this is the article for you. Basically, while we can all enjoy a show like Bones, we’ve really got to stop taking forensic evidence as gospel.

Alright, enough big stuff. If you want to go “AWWWWWW” just check out this link, here.

Where do we go from here?

I still have to do a lot of work to get my schedule feeling smooth. I’m hoping that this coming week my “early to bed, early to rise” schedule finally allows me to spend a couple of hours every morning working on my novel. If you know me IRL, I may be a bit incommunicado, so please bear with me. Hopefully, the light at the end of this tunnel will be a train—one I can board and enjoy some first-class treatment aboard while I chug along toward my goals.

Stay well, and take things easy, my friends. And, if you can’t go easy… go as easy as you can. <3

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