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Joshua Whiting

learner, writer, creator, librarianish person

a stream

All posts and notes on this site, sorted by when published.


Reading: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

[Originally Posted: 2020.07.12]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

My kids and I have been casually talking about turning our yard into an orchard, and re-reading this book in my backyard today inspires me to get completely serious about it. Impossible to read these poems and not want to start growing stuff.

My kids and I have been casually talking about turning our yard into an orchard, and re-reading this book in my backyard today inspires me to get completely serious about it. Impossible to read these poems and not want to start growing stuff.

Read the title poem from the collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay.

Check out Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude from a Salt Lake County Library like I did once or twice before I finally bought it.

Standalone post link: Reading: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
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The Opposite of Curation Isn't A Mess But Silence

[Originally Posted: 2020.06.22]
[Last Updated: 2022.08.11]

Been thinking a lot about curation, both professionally and personally. Where, when, how, whether to do it. I’ve been in a holding pattern about sharing things for a long time now - I have digital and physical notebooks full of things to potentially share (good and helpful things, I believe), but it seems too big a deal to share them. There are too many options, each with benefits and drawbacks, each with different audiences, or in some cases no audience at all.

Been thinking a lot about curation, both professionally and personally. Where, when, how, whether to do it.

I’ve been in a holding pattern about sharing things for a long time now - I have digital and physical notebooks full of things to potentially share (good and helpful things, I believe), but it seems too big a deal to share them. There are too many options, each with benefits and drawbacks, each with different audiences, or in some cases no audience at all.

Started playing hard with Pinterest at work last week as a potential way out of this, then promptly took vacation time and went camping out of cell range for several days. Now I’m having second thoughts about what I was starting to build there. Then third thoughts, that I should do more, and do it in more places.

Pinterest? Wakelet? Tweet threads? Some Google Doc? Destiny Discover Collections? My own website? My district library website? My district edtech website? Just leave it alone since my district has another new main webpage that kind of curates a little bit of what I was thinking but that I’m not involved in? Yes to all?

Do I go to where the most people are, even if it doesn’t always make the most organizational sense, or I don’t like the way it looks or works? Do I just use whatever platform is easy or makes the most sense to me? Do I belligerently insist on my own platform and expect people to come to me if they come at all? Do I let it go? Most other people don’t have this pressure to curate and share; maybe I shouldn’t either, and maybe it’s not even helpful or a good idea. Maybe it’s not actually my job. Guess I’m still kind of a mess, mentally uncurated.

Hey, take my little survey and let me know your dream curatorial format/platform, if there were no rules for any of us. I’ll share the results. (I first made this to get input from my co-workers.)

Standalone post link: The Opposite of Curation Isn't A Mess But Silence
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Working Conditions

[Originally Posted: 2020.05.03]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

Bookshelf by my desk full of books to read, review, or take back to the library if libraries ever open up again. Also, other things to do.

my desk one day when I hadn’t cleaned up in a while

Bookshelf by my desk full of books to read, review, or take back to the library if libraries ever open up again. Also, other things to do.

my desk one day when I hadn’t cleaned up in a while

Standalone post link: Working Conditions
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mlp:qim

[Originally Posted: 2020.05.03]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

mlp:qim

Arrangement by William Whiting. Photo by me.

mlp:qim

Arrangement by William Whiting. Photo by me.

Quarantine is magic.

Standalone post link: mlp:qim
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It's a Moot Point

[Originally Posted: 2020.04.18]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

It’s a Moot Point by Melanie Faye - Cover Art

I had a dream that I listened to this song on a different streaming platform and the guitar solos were missing from the track. I feverishly scoured the internet trying to find the original version with the guitar solos and figure out what was happening. Tabs kept closing on me and websites glitched into oblivion. I wasn’t sure if the streaming platform or record label had demanded their removal, or if she had somehow become ashamed of them and self-censored, or if it was the Mandela effect, or some other kind of weird conspiracy, but I was going to somehow get to the bottom of this cosmic scandal against musicianship and bring the lost guitar solos back to light.

The next day I had to listen to the song several times on different platforms just to be reassured that the guitar solos had not actually disappeared, but still remained on the track in their fulness.

It’s a Moot Point by Melanie Faye - Cover Art

I had a dream that I listened to this song on a different streaming platform and the guitar solos were missing from the track. I feverishly scoured the internet trying to find the original version with the guitar solos and figure out what was happening. Tabs kept closing on me and websites glitched into oblivion. I wasn’t sure if the streaming platform or record label had demanded their removal, or if she had somehow become ashamed of them and self-censored, or if it was the Mandela effect, or some other kind of weird conspiracy, but I was going to somehow get to the bottom of this cosmic scandal against musicianship and bring the lost guitar solos back to light.

The next day I had to listen to the song several times on different platforms just to be reassured that the guitar solos had not actually disappeared, but still remained on the track in their fulness.

Standalone post link: It's a Moot Point
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A Break for a Minute to Imagine

[Originally Posted: 2020.04.16]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

In the past month I’ve found myself paralyzed in regards to social media, both personally and professionally. Whenever I peak into my feeds I’ve been easily overwhelmed by the content I see: deluges of RESOURCES FOR “ONLINE LEARNING1,” endless interludes of stay-at-home inanities and banalities, and then literal death and suffering, since underneath all of this inconvenience, opportunism, and political posturing it turns out there is an actual tragic pandemic that is taking lives.

I haven’t known how to contribute to this world, and ultimately decided the best way to contribute would be to just stay quiet. Or maybe I just choked and failed by dropping out of this resource-sharing, curating, connecting game at the very moment when it was suddenly THE THING TO DO.

In the past month I’ve found myself paralyzed in regards to social media, both personally and professionally. Whenever I peak into my feeds I’ve been easily overwhelmed by the content I see: deluges of RESOURCES FOR “ONLINE LEARNING1,” endless interludes of stay-at-home inanities and banalities, and then literal death and suffering, since underneath all of this inconvenience, opportunism, and political posturing it turns out there is an actual tragic pandemic that is taking lives.

I haven’t known how to contribute to this world, and ultimately decided the best way to contribute would be to just stay quiet. Or maybe I just choked and failed by dropping out of this resource-sharing, curating, connecting game at the very moment when it was suddenly THE THING TO DO.

A couple of Sundays ago the weather was wonderful and I tried to get my kids to go outside with me on a walk or a hike or even just a drive, and they didn’t want to do it (this was the third day in a row I had invited them on such an excursion), so ultimately I went on a drive by myself. I headed east of Salt Lake for a particular side canyon dirt road I know that isn’t too high in elevation and that I had always found pretty much deserted when I visited in the past. I wanted to be able to socially isolate, and ever hopeful, scope it out to see if the snow had melted enough for a hike there with my kids on another day. When I arrived, the parking on the side of the road was full. There were far more people there at that moment than the collective number of all the people I had ever seen in all my previous visits to this place over the past 15+ years. Families and groups of people were out walking up and down this dirt road, with unleashed dogs running everywhere. One walking person, whose dog had just run in front of the car in front of me, almost getting hit and causing all traffic on the road to just stop for an awkwardly long period of time, loudly complained into my open window, “I don’t know why everyone wants to drive down this road TODAY!” just as a cyclist zoomed in between us and all the cars, dogs, and walkers as well. It was jarring and I felt exposed, and although technically I guess everyone was maybe keeping the 6 feet rule beyond their own families and groups it felt like the exact opposite of social distancing. I realized I had made a mistake and should have just stayed home, sat in my backyard or at my desk with the window open. I’m privileged to have these things, especially right now.

Turns out my 7yo daughter, the one we generally think of as the big extrovert in a mostly introvert family, hates video calls. She doesn’t want to be seen on them, whether it is with her grandparents, her cousins, or her teacher and classmates. She doesn’t want to converse with people. She finally got a little used to them by doing one with her brother from different rooms of our house. She spent the entire time just making goofy faces and noises at him until he laughed. (Didn’t take long because she is really funny, to be honest.) The next week after that she did join in a chat with her cousins, but never showed herself on screen. At one point in the chat she went outside on our old trampoline and put down the tablet with her microphone muted and the camera facing the sky, lay down next to it, and just listened to the chat. At another point she employed a small bunny rabbit puppet as a bonkers surrogate that would jump sideways into view and hop around in front of her brother’s face making ridiculous noises.

A curious thing I’ve noticed about myself is that the social networks I’m most consistently active on are those where I don’t actually know anyone or interact with them in any kind of way beyond following, reading, or maybe “liking” their posts. During this time of my social media confusion and my silence on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and other places where I actually know some people, I’ve still been faithfully logging and reviewing the movies I watch on Letterboxd, where I know no one (except one old co-worker who doesn’t post excessively) and get very little response from my posts. I continue to faithfully scrobble all my music listening on last.fm, where I likewise know no one and interact with virtually no one.

A few months ago I spent a fair amount of time thinking about what I might post on this very website and started adding things here semi-consistently, but I was barely sharing it out at all anywhere else. It was kind of my secret spot. Then I shared a couple of things on twitter and facebook and soon after that I heard from a some people face-to-face that they had looked at the site. I got weirded out and my enthusiasm strangely waned. I mean, theoretically a primary reason to have a website and share things on it is at the very least with the intention or hope that other people might look at it, right?

Two weeks after it was expected, my 9yo son still hasn’t finished the first main lesson page2 he was supposed to do at home. These pages are a combination of art and writing created by students on lusciously thick 11x17 paper, collected throughout the year, then sewnbound by the teacher and presented back to the student in a collection at the end of the school year. For the time being, we were to take a picture of the finished page and email it to his teacher. I believe this is the only assignment of this distance learning period for which she has requested such evidence of it being completed.

He colored the borders and drew the art on the top half of the page. He drafted the 5-sentence paragraph on the process of turning wool into cloth in his writing notebook, with only a single spelling error—sheer for shear—which he quickly corrected and added to his personal dictionary as per teacher instructions. He carefully wrote the first sentence of that paragraph in cursive on the lesson page. It was pretty much lunchtime, and he took a break for a minute “to imagine.” A week later he was still imagining.

I thought that sharing lots of digital resources was kind of my thing. I thought that communicating and connecting with people mainly online was kind of my thing. Turns out, maybe I was wrong. Maybe I’m not actually that good at it. Maybe I don’t actually like it or want it. Yet I keep thinking about it. I don’t quite know my path forward, but I’m going to start by posting this, finally, and then just maybe start sharing things again without overthinking? Yeah, right.

TL;DR- I was into social distancing and digital learning before they were cool, but now you all have come and ruined my scene.

Or maybe I’m losing my edge.3

4


  1. Lists of resources, and lists of lists of resources, and calendars of live stream events, and google drive folders filled with google docs containing links to these lists of lists, all being shared by edtech vendors and educelebrities and enthusiastic library listserv participants and cousins on Facebook who I haven’t seen in a decade or two.

    The image below was my original starting point for this post:

    REEEESSOOURCCES!!! ↩︎

  2. I guess I had to out myself here sooner or later as a public school district employee who is totally devoted to the public school project but whose kids attend a Waldorf charter school. It’s all my wife’s fault—she was interested in Waldorf education before I ever met her, and wanted to get involved as soon as she found out about a Waldorf school opening up in Salt Lake—and I am happy with my kids' education there. This distance/digital-mediated learning poses a particularly weird challenge for Waldorf teachers, by the way, but that’s a whole different blog post (or maybe handwritten letter copied from a handwritten journal entry?) ↩︎

  3.  ↩︎
  4. Made a tweet thread in association with this post, and just wanted to document it here.

     ↩︎
Standalone post link: A Break for a Minute to Imagine
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I Watched Permanent Vacation, 1980

[Originally Posted: 2020.03.07]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

It’s actually kind of inspiring how bad this film is.

Permanent Vacation Poster Image

It’s actually kind of inspiring how bad this film is.

Permanent Vacation Poster Image

I watched this in scattered 15-20 minute increments over the course of four or five days, due to either getting bored or falling asleep at each attempt to continue. I nevertheless kept coming back out of some stubborn need to see it through. When I found myself inexplicably awake at 5:30 this Saturday morning after having fallen asleep to it yet again the night before, I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I loaded it up and re-watched the last few minutes of it.

I’m convinced now there is a purposefulness and assuredness to its badness, a kind of punk obstinacy against making a good or entertaining film. It also seems a possibility that the whole film exists simply as an extended setup to tell the sick and clever “Doppler Effect” joke. And to just try out a lot of different things cinematically. Now that I think more on the film, there are many other jokes or situations that potentially could have been really humorous, but did not strike me as humorous as I was watching. Perhaps the bad acting and awkwardness serves the same disorienting purpose that noise/feedback/atonality serve in no wave, punk, and other experimental music?

The reason this film’s badness inspires me, or I should say gives me hope, is for my own creative life and for other creators: it is perhaps the best example I have encountered lately that one can make a thing that might be objectively awful, but come out from it having learned and grown, and proceed to make much stronger work in the future. Everything I saw and loved in Jarmusch’s later films (the humor, the obsession with music, the poetry, the awkwardly long, quiet, intimate takes) is already here in this film, but obscured. It is as if for his subsequent films he just had to learn to adjust and recalibrate settings to allow the humor and emotion to come into clearer focus. Or maybe he just needed a better lead actor, to be honest.

In the end I’m quite glad that I persisted in watching this seemingly terrible film and took some moments to think and write about it.

Watched in part for the Film School Drop Outs Challenge of 2017-2018 that I am still slowly, stubbornly, thoroughly working my way through in 2020. Week 34 - Revision (2017) - Movement - No Wave (1976-1985)

(First posted on letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/jdwhiting/film/permanent-vacation/)

Standalone post link: I Watched Permanent Vacation, 1980
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I Watched Stranger Than Paradise, 1984

[Originally Posted: 2020.03.01]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

I feel like every moment of my life going forward could be another scene of this film.

Stranger Than Paradise Poster Image

I feel like every moment of my life going forward could be another scene of this film.

Stranger Than Paradise Poster Image


This morning I woke up and went out on my back porch to appease our dog’s boredom with a game of fetch. It was a quiet, not-quite-spring Sunday morning; the only sounds beyond my dog’s running and occasional barks were some squirrels jumping between bare tree branches and at one point some unseen geese calling as they flew overhead. Snow began to fall, but was not sticking to the yellow grass and concrete. I didn’t really want to go out there but it ended up being low-key beautiful. I felt like I was in another scene of this film.


I kind of want to get out an actual deck of cards and play solitaire today, something I haven’t done in at least 15 years. I’m not sure I quite even remember the rules.


My grandma taught me and my cousins how to play rummy. I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house as a kid and teenager playing rummy at the kitchen table. Sometimes the tv or radio would be turned onto something random and blaring, because my grandma was hard of hearing. There was an instrumental flute version of “Bllie Jean” that often played on the easy listening radio station she liked. When no one else was there I think she spent a lot of time playing solitaire.


Watched this last night and thought it was funny and well done. Didn’t like it quite as much as Paterson (a personal favorite and my only Jarmusch film watched to this point), but it had a simplicity and purity which was undeniable.


I feel like every moment of my life going forward could be another scene of this film.

Watched this for my old Film School Drop Outs Challenge: Week 34 - Revision (2017) - Movement - No Wave (1976-1985).

(First posted on letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/jdwhiting/film/stranger-than-paradise/)

Standalone post link: I Watched Stranger Than Paradise, 1984
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Giulietta Masina - first and second impressions, while I was supposed to be regarding the genius of Fellini*

[Originally Posted: 2020.02.17]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

I think she might be the most hilarious actor I’ve ever watched.

Nights of Cabiria - Poster

La Strada - Poster

I think she might be the most hilarious actor I’ve ever watched.

Nights of Cabiria - Poster

La Strada - Poster

I watched La Strada, 1954, on February 14, 2020.

I watched Nights of Cabiria, 1957, on February 16, 2020.

I came to watch La Strada and Nights of Cabiria because Fellini was the next topic for an old film challenge that I’m still working my way through, but more than anything I came away from them a huge Giulietta Masina fan. I think she might be the most hilarious actor I’ve ever watched. Just her facial expressions and movements made me laugh out loud numerous times. She imbued both of these films, which on paper would be total slogs or unbearable tragedies, with so much humor and life. It seems almost unbelievable that Zampanò and the other characters in the films didn’t see this charisma and feeling themselves, and make her as much of a star as they could in their worlds. I guess that speaks all the more to the tragedy underlying these tales, our failure to see the wonder and value in our fellow humans.

I guess if nothing else the genius of Fellini is that he married Giulietta Masina and made these films for her to act in. Now I’m not entirely sure if I will even like a Fellini movie that doesn’t have Masina in it. He probably has genius beyond this too, but we will see.

Watched for the Film School Drop Outs - 2018 Challenge: Week 33 - Revision (2017) - Auteurs - Federico Fellini

Standalone post link: Giulietta Masina - first and second impressions, while I was supposed to be regarding the genius of Fellini*
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Listening: The Slow Rush

[Originally Posted: 2020.02.15]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

The Slow Rush by Tame Impala - Cover

Exceeded my expectations, and I can’t remember the last time a new album from an artist I already liked has done that. There is a warmth here that I haven’t heard in any of his work up until now. This is the electro psychedelic yacht rock I’ve been prepared for my entire life without realizing, every single track an absolute adult contemporary jam.

The Slow Rush by Tame Impala - Cover

Exceeded my expectations, and I can’t remember the last time a new album from an artist I already liked has done that. There is a warmth here that I haven’t heard in any of his work up until now. This is the electro psychedelic yacht rock I’ve been prepared for my entire life without realizing, every single track an absolute adult contemporary jam.

If I didn’t have so many other listening projects already queued up I’d probably just listen to this on repeat for the next couple of weeks.

Created a “Favorite Music of 2020” collection mainly so that I could add this to it as the first entry.

Standalone post link: Listening: The Slow Rush
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