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Week 03 – Lab + Reading Response

Lab

Over the course of over 70 years, the history of the University of Illinois has been marked by many “firsts” in the field of education and accommodations for those with disabilities. Originally, disability accommodations at the University were formed to serve those with physical disabilities due to war injuries, but they have since grown to include those with congenital physical disabilities as well as psychiatric disabilities and everything in between. Today, it is evident through the physical building of the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) division that it was built with the needs of those with physical mobility issues in mind; the DRES building is one story tall and has elevators with touch-pads to motion up or down located just above the ground. Even though the University and State of Illinois were initially against the public funding of DRES, having a physical building for their division has since created a safe environment for students with disabilities to access needed resources. Additionally, students with disabilities needed more accessible housing and around-the-clock care, and Beckwith Hall opened in 1981 as part of DRES. In 2010, Beckwith Residential Support Services relocated to the newly constructed Nugent Hall, as a part of housing now–thus increasing visibility to the rest of campus and access to the Ikenberry housing resources as well.

Students with wheelchairs in front of Beckwith Hall, 1982.

Nowadays, DRES offers a wide array of services, which we learned about from Maureen Gilbert, DRES’ Campus Life Coordinator. DRES Students have access to exclusive social workers, psychologists, career services, note-taking services, and proctored testing facilities in order to ensure they can get the support to succeed inside of the classroom and beyond it. As Maureen said, for example, it is especially crucial nowadays for DRES students to get note-taking services, because the virtual format of most classes nowadays has caused added stress to education for many students. At the same time, the building itself highlights the accomplishments and stories of many current and former DRES students from their student life experiences studying abroad or having romantic relationships to their career achievements after college. These experiences do not come easy, but accommodations, such as having the first wheelchair power lifts on buses, have helped DRES students experience UIUC campus life to its fullest. As Maureen pointed out, the MTD does indeed have wheelchair accessibility, but DRES continuing to have charter busses for their students is beneficial to help them get around during busy times between classes. It can be hard enough for any student in general to get a spot on a crowded bus, but for DRES students, it is naturally even harder. Maureen also highlighted the story of a former student with autism majoring in CS + Linguistics whose dream was to work for Microsoft, and eventually with the help of DRES career services and a corporate partnership with Microsoft, he was able to do so. Additionally, with Microsoft and other tech companies, DRES is working to help pioneer the field of web content accessibility for those with disabilities.

Wheelchair power-lift on bus, date unknown.

In terms of athletics, DRES supports dozens of paralympic and international athletes, especially in the sports of wheelchair racing and wheelchair basketball. Partnerships with the athletic department, for example, let athletes race and practice in the same spaces and alongside non-wheelchair athletes. This increased visibility and normalization was also seen in the Olympics in the 1990s where wheelchair racing was featured as a sport in order to increase popularity and awareness of wheelchair sports in the international arena. At the same time, members of DRES work alongside researchers and athletic companies to innovate technologies and tools to make athletes faster — including 3D printing for wheelchair racing gloves. Not only do these gloves go toward their students but they also go toward young athletes interested in participating in sports like their peers.

Timeline from 1988-2008 of highlighted UIUC Paralympic-medalling athletes.

As DRES grows in reach and magnitude at the University of Illinois, it meets challenges in funding and general accessibility practices. DRES itself hopes to expand its sports facilities, but their proposed new athletic facility will cost an estimated $245 million and has no current funding pipeline. While the University has publicly acknowledged said development, it remains a pipe dream for now. As well, while the ADA is celebrating its 30th anniversary, there are still a lot of architectural advancements, such as the elevator button that DRES features, that would make the lives of those with physical disabilities easier, but they are yet to be mandated across the board. Additionally, web content accessibility remains a large pain point but many websites remain not fully accessible to those with vision impairments or screen readers. In challenges such as these, DRES’ partnerships with policy-makers, donors, and corporate sponsors proves crucial in making changes benefitting accessibility beyond just the UIUC campus.

Reading Response

In general, I think that these authors would agree that these innovations furthered inclusion and diversity on campuses. Through the creation of cultural houses on Nevada Street, the University leaned into the demands of various ethnic groups’ need to have visibility and learn about their culture (Hoxie and Hughes 219). These buildings provided safe spaces and personalized programming for minority groups, and in doing so, generations of minority students have felt supported while on campus — as merely accepting is not enough to do justice. For Black students specifically, the advent of the Afro-American Cultural Center in 1969 provided workshops on writing, dance, and gender roles among other topics (Williamson 82). By being able to participate in African American culture and heritage, Black students specifically could feel supported and have a sense of community with their Black peers. Through the creation of the Special Educational Opportunities Program, the University sought to aggressively increase enrollment of disadvantaged students, especially Blacks, to the ballpark of 500 students (Williamson 57). This program ultimately resulted in an increased socioeconomically and racially diverse student body, but there were many hurdles including acceptance and retention. All in all, the effects of these strategies lives on today, but there is still a long way to go in terms of racial justice on campus. The University under-accepts Black students, relative to the population of Illinois, across the board but especially in the high-paying fields of engineering. As well, departments and divisions supporting minority students are not funded at the same levels of certain colleges, such as Engineering or Business.

Week 02 – Lab + Reading Response

Question: What do students do for fun outside of school and how has that changed over time?

Line of Inquiry: I would need to learn about the different types of extracurricular activities at the University of Illinois and what they each entail. As well, I would need to understand how previous definitions of these activities may compare or contrast from how they are now. If possible, learning the origins of each activity would be relevant as well. In the end, this could showcase the evolution of interests over time or reveal commonalities despite the changing times.

According to the video “Star Course | Music in the Air,” Star Course was a student organization formed to be a “speaker series styled after the ‘Star Course’ literary circuit of Boston” (0:22-0:27). Then, “by the mid-20th century, the organization was an active force in bringing the heat of its generation to student audiences” (1:22-1:28) and is now the “oldest student-run organization at Illinois” (0:29-0:32). I chose to highlight this, because it showcases how despite changes in taste and preference, the Star Course student-run music production continues in popularity. Video: https://youtu.be/eXCP1CR5tfA

According to the video “1868-1919 | How Do Students Live Here?”, the University officially embraced the Greek System starting in 1891 and “Greek houses began appearing on campus in the early 1900s, providing living quarters and instant companionship for students seeking new friends in a new environment” (1:46-2:03). This reveals that the origin of Greek Life was to meet the basic needs of housing and companionship for its members. Video: https://youtu.be/jQZAqPJJhk0

According to the video “1941-1966 | How Do Students Live Here?”, “One student could offer wisdom beyond her years: ‘Pretty much everyone will say that the dorm they lived in their freshman year is the best one on campus!’” (2:07-2:16). This perspective reveals that many people at the time based their identity and social life on their dormitory, and thus, they felt a lot of pride attached to their chosen residence hall. Video: https://youtu.be/AY879GDcptk

According to the “Fraternity and Sorority Tour: 1912-1913,” many former fraternity and sorority houses encompassed space along Green Street. This is a lot different from nowadays, because those houses no longer occupy Green Street, and the area nowadays is largely seen as a commercial area for recreation, food, and drink.

Analysis

From the tour and data, I learned that student life at the University was largely attributed to and dictated by housing choice. This can be inferred from the rise of the Greek System as one of the reliable sources of housing before public housing (for males) was offered by the University, as well as the general feeling of pride for one’s residence hall. Nowadays, such pride for one’s dorm is not as prevalent—likely due to the rise of technology making communication and coordination among students living in different places more seamless. A few texts and a bus ride later, people could be having lunch with their friends all across campus. The identity and social circles of a student is not bound by their dorm and its physical confines but rather the course schedules and bus timesheets. Additionally, the Greek System has likely risen in popularity in terms of a student’s identity with a series of traditions and standards one must meet in order to get a bid, which is a far cry from its original goal of meeting housing and companionship needs. The identity and social life of a person can indeed be outlined by their fraternity or sorority in today’s time. At the same time, student organizations like Star Course, which itself hosts music productions, have remained largely the same in mission despite the decades since but its execution in terms of music genre of course differs from reggae to rap to rock depending on the time. 

My analysis is definitely incomplete, and my perhaps deficient analysis is largely influenced by the finite source material of the digital exhibits and historic maps. At the same time, I have to consider how the objective of the videos I used as evidence was to highlight the change in housing over time in an energetic manner, and I largely had to extrapolate my findings and apply my current perception of student life in order to deduce social change on campus. Whether I myself am that comprehensive of a source on student life remains to be considered, but it definitely leads to a weak answer to my question. There is a lot of further research I could do involving Greek Life specifically, the evolution of Green Street, the growth of RSOs, and the effects of technology on social life—even then, these are only a few ideas. There are a lot of additional questions I have as well: how did the balances of certain student persona types’ average daily time spent doing activities (e.g. studying, RSOs, Greek Life) change over the decades? How was this influenced by race and gender? What was the perception among students of other students (e.g. stereotyping)? The intersection of these topics surrounding social life is where a lot of my questions rest.

Reading Response

In order to demonstrate the ability and worth of the DRES community, Tim Nugent relied on several uncommon strategies in order to prove to an audience that believed them to be incompetent and worthless to the University community. At the start of 1949, the initial 14 paraplegics admitted to the University were explained in The Daily Illini “individually, by name, age, major, and reason for the paralysis that ‘forced [them] to use wheelchairs'” (Reagan 52). It’s clear then, that this dehumanization and objectification was not being cast on others but merely students with disabilities as it was viewed acceptable to openly discuss their bodies rather than afford them privacy. Nugent continued to lobby against these injustices–including how the change to wheelchair-accessible sidewalk curb cuts was not being done quickly enough so “Nugent and a group of students then went out late one night and broke curbs with sledgehammers, forcing the university to ‘repair’ them with curb cuts” (Reagan 54). This sort of renegade thinking and action allowed for the increased accessibility of sidewalks as the University did not feel compelled to update them for wheelchair access unless they already had to update them due to a general need for repair. At the same time, Nugent’s standard for new buildings to be built with wheelchair users in mind in 1953 was already 15 years before the federal Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and was the first of its kind on college campuses (Brown 173). While the University may seem somewhat slow and unprogressive in addressing the needs of students with disabilities, it was in reality lightyears ahead of its peers and competitors in doing so. Nugent’s work a long way in dismantling the current status quo of the time where those with disabilities were not expected to go to University, nonetheless participate in recreational activities like sports (“Expanding Horizons” 3). In that light, his work did a lot to illuminate DRES students in their own terms and allow them to do a lot of things that they previously could not, such as participate in education at a large university and do sports.

Annotated Bibliography

Bitzer, Donald. “Use of CBE for the Handicapped.” American Annals of the Deaf, Gallaudet University Press, 1979.

This chapter’s purpose is to illustrate the role and activities regarding using PLATO with those with disabilities. Donald Bitzer is an electrical engineer famous for pioneering and steering the direction of PLATO as a computer- assisted instruction system. The audience is other large entities looking to implement technological advances such as PLATO to educate students with disabilities.

Bankhead, Tekita, Otchere, Kimberly, and Williams, Ayanna. “Housing Is An Epicenter For Change: A Narrative of Students and Staff Championing Campus Social Change Movements.” Journal of College & University Student Housing. Vol. 43, Issue 3, 2017, p 80-91.

Through this article, Bankhead, Otchere, and Williams demonstrate the work of student activists and University housing to co-create positive social change for students of color. In doing so, they portray the University as a benevolent and supportive system for student activists and their need for change, especially come from their positions as staff leadership within the cultural and social justice spaces at the University.

Bragg, Debra, Durham, Brian, and McCambly, Heather. “Catching the Spark: Student Activism and Student Data as a Catalyst for Systemic Transformation.” Change, Vol. 48, Issue 3, 2016, p36-47.

As the faculty and administrators behind the Pathways to Results program, the authors are clearly trying to emphasize the program’s success and impact in achieving its goals of systemic transformation of the University of Illinois. The want the University of Illinois’ program to be a testament to their effectiveness as empathetic leaders as well as to teach other universities how they leveraged data in order to improve the experiences of people of color.

Brown, Steven E. “Breaking Barriers: The Pioneering Disability Students Services Program at the University of Illinois: 1948-1960.” Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Author Steven E. Brown demonstrates and explains the disability programs of the University that have made the University of Illinois one of the initial universities that was largely accessible for those with disabilities. The text is definitely lengthy and intended for academics to cite for their scholarly works. While this chapter is only one that focuses on the University of Illinois, other chapters likely did not focus on the U of I and instead focus on other topics.

Commemorative Book Preparation and Publication Committee. “Expanding Horizons: A History of the First 50 Years of the Division of Rehabilitation-Education Services at the University of Illinois.” Roxford DT Pub., 1998.

This source covers the history and milestones of the first 50 years of the influential Division of Rehabilitation-Education Services (DRES) at the University of Illinois. Its intended audience is likely the University’s academics, DRES community, and the public, because its lighthearted language and wide usage of photos would be generally appealing and digestible for wide audiences. There is bias in this piece as it was put out by DRES itself and likely wanted to portray everything the University did as fair and favorable toward the disability community.

Evans, Sara M. “Sons, Daughters, and Patriarchy: Gender and the 1968 Generation.” American Historical Review, 2009.

Evans highlights the history of the gender movement in regards to the patriarchy as a dichotomy between men and women, especially as it related to and was seen in 1968. Her audience is likely academic as it includes extensive citations and footnotes. Her work is unique in that it focuses predominantly on gender in terms of the 1968 generation, rather than other social movements, and in its international sense.

Geiger, Roger. “The History of American Higher Education.” Princeton University Press, 2015.

Through his book, the author Roger Geiger attempts to summarize a wide array of history involving American higher education, including the effects and interpretations of the Morrill Land Grant of 1862. His extensive documentation and survey of the landscape is definitely fit for a scholar necessitating adequate citations, and this comes across in his verbose tone and comprehensive descriptions. All in all, he seeks to demonstrate how the Morrill Land Grant meant a wide range of things for private to public to midwestern to eastern universities, but nonetheless, it pushed forward the popularity of education in the United States, even if that meant succumbing to external pressures and not quite meeting its mark of an education for the masses.

Harrison, Chase. “Program on Survey Research.” Harvard University Press, 2007.

In this document, Harrison intends to outline best practice and advice for research survey design. The author is the Associate Director of the Harvard Program on Survey Research, which is an interdisciplinary scientific program that facilitates research and instruction in the theory and practice of survey research. This document is intended to be introductory to survey design and accessible for non-academics to enter survey design.

Henry, David, and Springer, William. “University of Illinois Centennial.” Congressional Record, 1968.

In a speech he delivered as the President of the University of Illinois, David Henry outlines the immense scholastic and societal achievement of the university and other land-grant universities as well as its students over the past century since its founding. From there, he thanks the innovations of his predecessors while looking toward the future, emphasizing the ongoing importance of a university education, and pushing toward growth of the University in order for it to sustain these goals and promises of career preparation and democracy for Illinois and the rest of the country.

“Heinz von Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory: A Cybernetics Odyssey.” Exhibits, University of Illinois Archives, 6 December 2016. archives.library.illinois.edu/blog/heinz-von-foerster-and-the-bcl.

The purpose of this archives blog post is to describe and give a brief overview of Heinz Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory. The author, Bethany Anderson, is a blogger for the archives at the University of Illinois. The blog post is intended to be accessible and interesting to students and the general public curious about the BCL.

Hutchinson, Jamie. “Heinz Von Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory.” “Nerve Center” of the Cybernetic World. http://bcl.ece.illinois.edu/hutchinson/index.htm.

The purpose of this webpage is to showcase the history of Heinz and the Biological Computer Laboratory in a technically robust format. The author, Jamie Hutchinson, is an editor within the Grainger College of Engineering’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department. The webpage is likely intended to be referenced or accessed by electrical engineering and technical students and academics seeking a brief overview of the BCL and cybernetics.

Hoxie, Frederick E., and Hughes, Michael. “Nevada Street: A Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

As Hoxie and Hughes highlight in their short article, the cultural houses on Nevada Street are living evidence of the dedication since the 1960s of student activists and faculty on the University of Illinois campus to have safe spaces and support for students of varying ethnic backgrounds. While the authors conclude that the creation of these cultural houses and their resultant programs are testimony to the power of activism and protests, there should be more research and metrics about the success and popularity of these programs in order to successfully justify if the original demands of student activists have been met.

Lamont, Valerie. “New Directions for the teaching Computer: Citizen Participation in Community Planning.” Computer-based Education Research Laboratory, 1973.

The purpose of the document is to describe the author’s experience using PLATO for community planning, and in the process of doing so, highlighting PLATO’s viability as a community planning tool. Valerie Lamont was the researcher carrying out the experiment, who was one of the early students and adopters of PLATO. The audience is researchers and technologists interested in civic organizing methods.

Metz, Michael. “Radicals in the Heartland: The 1960s Student Protest Movement at the University of Illinois.” University of Illinois Press, 2019.

This source discusses the student protest and activism movements the University of Illinois during the 1960s. Michael Metz was a UIUC student during that time period, and thus, his perspective and recanting likely has influences from having lived through it as a student. His audience is likely other U of I alumni who also lived through that time period as well as academics and non-academics who are simply curious about the history of student activism at the University.

OECD, “Good Practices in Survey Design Step-by-Step.” Measuring Regulatory Performance: A Practitioner’s Guide to perception Surveys, OECD Publishing, Paris, 2012.

The purpose of this document is to provide a deep-dive into the art of research survey design. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organization founded to stimulate economic progress and world trade. The audience is researchers and academics seeking to surveys calibrated to an internationally accepted standard.

Prutzer, Ned. “The Biological Computer Laboratory.” The Biological Computer Laboratory, 20 Jan 2019. scalar.usc.edu/works/the-biological-computer-laboratory/the-bcl-and-the-cybernetics-moment?path=index.

The purpose of this website is to reveal the story of the Biological Computer Laboratory through a story-like manner in order to appeal to wider and more diverse audiences interested in research, such as undergraduate students. The author is a PhD student in Communications and Media at the University of Illinois.

Reagan, Leslie J. “Timothy Nugent: ‘Wheelchair Students’ and the Creation of the Most Accessible Campus in the World.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

This source provides an overview of the initial years of DRES and Timothy Nugent’s influential effects on the University and its disability community in making large progress toward wide-spread accessibility. At the same time, this piece likely shows bias in favor of Tim Nugent as he is largely revered by the University nowadays and this piece was printed by the University of Illinois press. Regardless, the author justifies his rationale and is able to showcase that some of Nugent’s work was met with initial criticism by those with disabilities too.

“Remembering the Future.” PLATO History, PLATO History Foundation, 2010. www.platohistory.org.

The purpose of this blog is to highlight anecdotes from PLATO’s history and creation. The main author, Brian Dear, is a longtime tech entrepreneur and founder that has previously worked worked in computer-baed education including with the PLATO system. His tone is more casual and approachable, especially with the blog-based format of the sitee.

Schroeder, Paul. “Why?” The Daily Illini, 15 Mar 1968.

Paul Schroeder is a self-proclaimed disappointed student who has spent his last four years at the University of Illinois and had been chosen to deliver a speech at the Centennial Convocation. He feels that the University has failed him and his fellow students, because the education does not meet the demands of the students to push critical modern thought and support retrospection and its outlined changes. Schroeder’s call to action is one to his fellow students as well as university faculty and administrators: join together and rebuild education so that it can prepare the next generation of leaders.

Williamson, Joy Ann. “Black Power on Campus: The University of Illinois, 1965-75.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

Through this chapter in a scholarly book, Williamson explains the history of the Special Educational Opportunities Program (SEOP), which was the University of Illinois’ proposed solution to take affirmative action in order to recruit more disadvantaged students, especially Blacks. The author highlights issues with recruitment, acceptance, and retention of these students — showcasing how it was multi-faceted challenge that required the help and acceptance of many departments and staff within the University.

Williamson, Joy Ann. “The Campaign to Diversify the University.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

Through this look into the history of Black students at the University of Illinois, the author explains the history of Black students and student life since the early 1900s through the 1970s, while also highlighting a few modern events as well. The author does this in order to explain how Black students specifically in the 1960s and 1970s demanded changes and how that ultimately resulted in policies and initiatives that have benefited Black students and faculty since. At the same time, the author highlights certain opposition and vitriol that these groups faced in gaining acceptance.

Yang, Andrew. The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs. Hachette Books, 2018.

Throughout his book, Andrew Yang highlights the role of automation on the disappearance of jobs and the need for Americans to adapt to this. Andrew Yang is known for being a candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries and for being an executive at a test prep company as well as Venture for America, a program that gives two-year fellowships for those seeking a start-up experience. This book became the basis for his Democratic campaign and the agenda he ran on, which highlighted the need for Americans to adapt to automation, and thus, it can be said that it may be less rigorous in statistics but strong in convincing rhetoric for the general public — though likely well-educated — that may be reading it.

Week 01 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Why is the idea of Land Grant important to President Henry and the comments he
makes in his 1968 speech? What was innovative about Land Grant – what did it change?

The idea of the Morrill Land Grant of 1862 is fundamentally necessary to understand the monumental history of the University of Illinois and to see where it may grow from there. During the centennial anniversary of the Land Grant, the University of Illinois President Henry clearly illustrates how far the University has gone in increasing access and admission to higher education, contributing to academic research across a variety of disciplines, and preparing thousands of students for careers. However, he does not stop there and is quick to point out the areas and fields that the University needs work on. While the initial vision of the Land Grant was static in its emphasis on education for the agricultural laborer, its interpretation and propagation in society remains dynamic and ever-changing to the needs of the institution and its people.

Innately, the Morrill Land Grant set aside the means for the University of Illinois—Illinois Industrial University originally—to grow and to educate Illinoisans on agriculture and best labor practices. Outside of Davenport Hall even, we can read: “Industrial education prepares the way for a millennium of labor.” The ever reaches of such an act sought out to “institutionalize  practical  fields  of study, meld them with liberal education, open them to a new class of students, and charge the states with finding the means to accomplish it all” (Geiger 281). The Land Grant opened up publicly-funded institutions of higher education in a plethora of states and transformed the access to education and innovation from then on. From there, we can see how each state and people had their own autonomy to determine what this meant, but for many land-grant universities such as the University of Illinois, this meant hopefully lowering the socioeconomic barrier to access of universities and increasing its growth in order to meet demand—although there was still a long way to go (Henry 2). In this, we can see that President Henry outlines Illinois as the next beacon into the future, but in order to be that, the University necessitates growth and visionaries such as him to guide the University into the next century. Regardless, the principle remains that the Morrill Land Grant’s rationale of preparation for the common man remains but has grown to be far more than that.

By extrapolating the Land Grant’s original idea of education for the masses as a means to better equip citizens to participate in society, we can then understand its criticisms. At the same time of President Henry’s speech, there was backlash by students against the university for failing to push forth critical thought and listen to the qualms of the next generation of change-makers. Students felt simply unprepared, and as though a university education no longer had merit—it was no longer enough to simply educate students on agriculture and industry as originally poised but to equip them with the intellectual and critical thinking to solve whatever problems came toward them.  Thus, the Morrill Land Grant and its effects prove dynamic and open to interpretation. As the student Centennial Convocation speaker Paul Schroeder said, “Let us all work together not so much to liberalize the present order, as to gain our liberation from it” (1968). It is not enough for the students to be educated but for faculty and students alike to pioneer the vision of the future, be it through industry or academia.

Innovation + Space Lab

8/28/20 10:15 pm

During quarantine, I have designated this space as a location to separate myself from my home life and enter my academic and professional life. In order to fully put myself in my working mindset, there are several key elements that make up this space. First and foremost, the object that I believe best represents this space is the post-it on the entryway. I prefer to work in this space because it is relatively secluded from the rest of the house which puts a buffer between me and my family, who will often talk to me or ask favors of me, in order to make sure I can attend meetings and online classes without interruptions. I have taken to placing a post-it note on the wall to indicate to others who are sharing space with me that I cannot be interrupted at the moment. Instead of a door, this room is connected to the rest of my house via an open archway, which I did not initially register as an innovation, but it has proven to be the perfect boundary to mediate between myself and the rest of my household when I am working at home. Unlike a closed door, my family members feel like they are able to enter the space and talk to me, however in combination with the post-it note, they are able to tell when I am working on something that cannot be interrupted. 

One of the key issues during quarantine has been establishing boundaries. This includes boundaries between myself and my family and also boundaries between my workday and my downtime. This area is not particularly well lit during the evening and night time which at first I found an inconvenience, because it made it more frustrating to work late into the night. But over time I’ve started to register the change in daylight as an indication of the end of my workday and been more mindful of setting a clear end time to my workday.  The change in daylight in a way also represents a change in ownership of this space. During the day I use this space, specifically the desktop computer, to attend virtual meetings and do schoolwork, however later at night, my brother uses the desktop computer to play video games and video call with his friends.

Simply speaking, the innovations in the space are uncountable. We could simply be talking about the double-walled glass acting as insulator to the cold outdoors to the Mac desktop computer that communicates to anywhere in the world to the fluorescent lightbulb that brighten the room with a flick of a switch. While the room may seem cluttered and not specifically “modern,” the innovations it relies on are definitely modern. Even looking at something so simple as the curtains that block out light, each function and item of the room could be dissected as having had hundreds to thousands of years of science and thought put into it.




8/31/20 11:00 am

The latter post covered my home-life due to a quick visit back home, but this post will cover my new bedroom/apartment in Champaign. I have since settled in somewhat to Champaign, but the boxes and open luggage on the ground do not clearly illustrate that fact. I have had all the time in the world, and even as I spend the vast majority of the day in my room, I somehow find myself content with its clutter. The fact being that no one ever has to interface with my room except for myself, so I do not feel specifically inclined to make it presentable. Hey, if it works for me, it works, right? I sleep, work, shower, eat, etc. here.

What most annoys me though and why this space is noted alongside my quarantine home is this hole in the wall I have above my toilet. It was here when I moved in, and due to my room still remaining a mess, I have yet to call up maintenance to address it, even though the fact it exists rather bothers me. To be fair, a “hole” is not an object in a traditional sense, but its existence best represents my outlook in life, depending on how you frame it. It could be said that I am immensely lazy for allowing it to continue bother me and haunt my mind (e.g. what if the pipes burst? What if I’m breathing in asbestos? What if a spider comes out?), or it could be said that I do not shy away from adversity and am unhindered by first-world expectations. This is still a world away from the home-life and cleanliness that I observe when I visit my family in Vietnam.

What’s clear in my photos is that I let boxes and luggage pile up in my room. To be fair, I was trying to fold up those boxes, but I could find no adequate space for them. Either way, we can remark on the innovation of the modern microwave and instant pot. The microwave likely came through from research in academia on the effects of different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation–luckily, do to the Faraday cage of microwaves, we are largely unhindered by the exposure to radiation to cook our food. Likewise, the innovation and popularity of the Instant Pot pressurized cooker is quite recent, and I can recall that it was started by an engineer who invested his life’s savings into its creation. Since then, it has been the beloved household cooker of many meals. Each of these innovations ultimately save time in the kitchen. No longer does one have to wait for dozens of minutes to reheat a frozen meal or for hours to create delicious bone broth. As well, they save space and are efficient somewhat as they can be reused thousands of times.