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Mike's Thoughts

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Spring 2017 [May. 31st, 2017|03:00 pm]
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I spent this spring eating and drinking.

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After such a light post last season, it's nice to have so many photos this time =)
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Winter 2016-17 [Mar. 12th, 2017|03:37 pm]
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Happy New Year 2017 [Jan. 1st, 2017|04:50 pm]

On a macro level, there seems to be a general agreement that as a year, 2016 was subpar. From my micro perspective though, 2016 was actually kinda fulfilling. I met increased responsibilities at work while remaining active in the EFL research community and maintaining social and hobby time. However, this year was most remarkable because of all of the personal connections I was able to cultivate with visits to and from various friends. In addition to my splendid Tokyo peeps, in 2016 I met up with…

January: Kochi people
February: Rita, Peter, Julia, Anna
April: Rachelle, Stephen, Anna again
July: Okanos (two visits!), Mayumi and Tome people – especially Seiko, Rie, Hiroshi and the Satos, Taguchis, and Kasaharas
August in NJ: NJ family, Matt, Joe
August in NY: Julienne and Adam, Caroline, Odakuras, almost Lea and Alex
August in Philly: Sara, Evan, Philly family
August in Edinburgh: Becky and Josef, Astrid
September: Di, Kochi people again
October: Joe again, Max, Rita again
December: Odakuras again

I’m still struggling with Trump’s election and its implications for America, as well as the general conservative momentum of governments around the world. Since November, I’ve often seen liberals accused of living in echo chambers. I think this is true, but not just for liberals. As social media algorithms become more sophisticated, we are all spoon fed more of the news that we want to read, news which doesn’t challenge our pre-existing viewpoints. Then as these bubbles become more fine-tuned, our politics become more polarized and we find it harder to accept new and different ideas, or even to relate to people with those ideas. This finding, supported by data (1, 2), has alerted me to a need to consume alternate perspectives in order to understand and respect others as individuals, even especially if we disagree. When government policy fails them/you/me/us, I still believe that we can all brave the next four years by supporting each other on this personal level.

Now moving forward into 2017, I’ve tasked my privileged self with introspection and negotiation homework. I must negotiate the knowledge that there are increasingly vulnerable people in the US, with my physical distance from the risks they face. I must negotiate the desire to support these people, with an incomplete understanding of how. I must negotiate the hope that American politics become more inclusive and accepting, with the knowledge that the majority electoral vote doesn’t reflect this sentiment.

In short, I’m still lost, but at least there's an immediate plan. I will (1) read/listen, (2) donate, and (3) live, on my micro level, the values of acceptance, sympathy, compassion for others which I hope the US will represent again one day. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. More visits in 2017 please so we can practice together!
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Baking 2016 [Dec. 27th, 2016|07:18 pm]
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The goal for 2016 was more pie. I suppose I succeeded right at the end. One of the instructional videos I used stressed that homemade pies don't need to be perfect, but I'm proud to report that this blueberry pie was. I've finally gotten the hang of pastry dough. In addition to all that's pictured here, I also baked a lot of whole wheat bread and energy bars for day to day consumption. My goal for 2017 is simply to continue both healthy and unhealthy baking as a healthy distraction from world events when necessary.
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Fall 2016 [Nov. 30th, 2016|10:14 pm]
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Too much work. Not enough words. Some pictures.
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