Friday Fragments


Confessions of a Community College Dean

My nominee for Understated Headline of the Week, from CNN Business: “Electric Car Batteries Are Catching Fire, and That Could Be a Turnoff to Buyers.”

I suppose it could, yes …

Many thanks to the fellow sufferers of Zoom Fatigue who wrote (or tweeted) with suggestions for dealing with it. Highlights included:

  • Phone calls — lose the audio lag! This is my personal favorite.
  • Mute mic and turn off video. This works if you can get away with it. Most of the time, I can’t.
  • Buffer periods between meetings. This is essential. The key is standing up, stretching and walking away from the desk, even if only for a moment. Checking the mail is a good excuse to walk away for a moment.
  • Unapologetic multitasking during meetings. I salute those who can actually do this, but I can’t do justice to multiple complicated things at the same time. Mindless doodling is fine, but something like answering emails while also paying attention to the meeting requires too much mental bandwidth. I also can’t shake the feeling that it’s rude.
  • Standing desk. I haven’t tried this one, but it’s not a bad idea. I put this on my “hmm” list.
  • Watching on iPad while walking around the house. For the love of all that is holy and good, only do this with the camera off. I don’t want to get motion sick watching your screen.
  • Declining meetings altogether. Well, yeah, but that brings real costs of its own. I agree with the need to prioritize. However, given my role, this is mostly a nonstarter for me.
  • Hiding self-view. I need to figure out how to do this.
  • Avatars. This feels like a variation on the “Mute mic and turn off video” option. That said, it’s fun to imagine having a bullpen of avatars that could be deployed according to one’s mood.
  • Showing off pets. Yes, yes, yes. More of this, please.

As always, the most effective technique is looking at the big picture. Those of us lucky enough to have jobs that involve Zoom fatigue, rather than being consistently exposed to an airborne pandemic, should count our blessings. In the context of 2020, Zoom fatigue may be the best-case scenario.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot, Gritty, transcends his origins much like the San Diego Chicken once did. But Gritty’s ethos is, well, grittier. Where the Chicken gave off a “children’s cereal character” vibe, Gritty’s aesthetic is more “Nick Nolte on a bender.”

If you haven’t seen it yet, and if you can handle espresso-dark humor, this video explaining Gritty to the French is just flat-out brilliant.

“Because he doesn't have a raison d’être, he doesn’t have a reason to fear.”

Bonus points for working in references to both Nietzsche and Kim Kardashian. Excellent.

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Advice Newsletter publication dates: 
Thursday, November 12, 2020
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Thursday, November 12, 2020

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