A Friday off in the summer is allowing me to catch up on Bryan Alexander’s book club reading, the expansive, immersive “New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson. This is the first novel of his I have read, which is clearly a cultural deficit I should attempt do rectify soon.
The book’s title tells you what the book is about, largely. The New York of 2140 is dealing with the impacts of a 50 foot sea level rise due to climate change. New York is underwater to around 30th Street, and much of the story takes place in the Met Life and Flatiron buildings around Madison Square Park, which make the story especially compelling to me as my office is only a few blocks east of here on 25th street (and whose building would be partially underwater in the book, although my 9th floor office would be above the waterline.) Perhaps when Bryan told me I “might like this one” his is what he meant.
A few impressionistic thoughts:
- After reading “Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow, and thinking of my favorite book club perennial also-ran in voting, “2030” by Albert Brooks, we’re getting lots of scenario building and world building around the possible futures our present choices are creating. It’s also hard for me to read 2140 and not think about the current US administration’s easing of climate legislation and rollback of environmental protection laws. I worry that the events outlined in the book (and they are described with precise timelines) might be happening sooner than this book predicts; and also, although the Surges are catastrophic, Robinson outlines a viable world that exists after them (although the extent of devastation and displacement are not fully explored, since the story does not take place then) but a world where wealth inequality and the triumph of global capitalism are decisive and permanent.
- I am an amateur enthusiast about the infrastructure and architecture of New York City and cities in general, so the discussion of the changes in the cityscape that the book describes are intensely interesting to me. The book has a lot to say about present-day New York in its description of the New York of 120 years in the future.
- It’s also fascinating how Robinson describes both what has changed and what hasn’t changed. The day-to-day of the denizens of future NYC is not very different than present-day, except perhaps with a lot more water. Computing technology seems basically the same, and there’s some advancement in materials (carbon fiber and aerogels get mentioned) but these are still fundamentally New Yorkers, recognizable to us today as such. I find it helpful to think about how 2018 New York would look to people at the turn of the 20th century–as far back from us know as we are from New York 2140. New Yorkers would still be recognizable to us, the street grid is identical, and many of the buildings would still be there (especially north of the intertidal in the 30th-streets area).
I’m gonna get back to reading and hopefully comment more. I just wanted to mark a few thoughts while I can. This is an amazing book and certainly worthy of its Hugo nomination.
Feeling a little nostalgic as of late. This is because of four things:
- I recently passed my one year anniversary at Baruch. I didn’t really mark it at the time because I was on vacation. But I’ve always thought it takes a calendar year to really experience and understand new things–especially in academia where the calendar gives us more structure than some other workplaces. Facebook reminding me of my post on my last day working at Drew and my first day at Baruch also helped quite a bit, as well as LinkedIn reminding me (and several colleagues congratulating me there.) One year to me is also when I have to stop calling myself “new”, with the commensurate set of expectations.
- Last night I went to a going away dinner for yet another of my work colleagues who have left Drew. There have been several who have left since the start of 2016, and the organization will need to rebuild. I’m extremely happy for my colleagues who have left, and I am hopeful for those who remain, they are a great team and they will do well. It was an interesting evening also because several other colleagues who left Drew were also there, and it was a group of people who hadn’t all been together in the same place in a long time, so that felt a bit nostalgic.
- I’m right now on a plane to Chicago, where my Frye class of 2006 is having a summit. Frye was (still) the single most transformative event of my leadership journey, and I’m looking forward to getting together with many of my closest professional friends, and reflecting on the lessons Frye gave us. It’s convenient that it happens right after my first year at a new job.
- It’s spring. Rebirth and all that.
So I’m feeling a bit reflective and contemplative. It’s a good time for me to take stock, and ready myself to continue to grow as an employee, professional, and leader. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and yearning to do even more and do it better. A good time to outfit my toolbox and practice my skills.
How do you refresh, reflect, and recharge?
October 11, 2016 marked six months of working as AVP of IT and Deputy CIO at Baruch College. Tl;dr: It’s been the hardest I’ve ever worked, and overall it’s been incredibly rewarding. And I’m just getting started.
Continue reading On the Occasion of my Semianniversary
As I come up on my six month anniversary at my new job (surely that is worth blogging about, stay tuned) I’ve decided to dust off this post. Parts of it date from nearly a year ago, as I was basically using it as a place to write down some of the random thoughts that would occur to me during my explorations into the employment market. (I would always test myself by clicking “Save Draft” instead of “Publish” because I like living on the edge.) I’ve cleaned it up because I’ve been sharing parts of it with people I know who are on their career paths, and figure it could be of use to others. Of course, this is written by someone who is on the higher education IT leadership track, but it should have some relevance for anyone in the job hunt.
A disclaimer: I’m not looking for a new job at the moment. Anything written here is from the perspective of when I was looking for a new job, which was before I had a new job. I like my new job, a fact about which I’ll elaborate on in a few weeks.
Continue reading What I Learned in the Job Search
I’ve now been an Assistant Vice President and Deputy CIO for just over a month. In some ways, it feels like no time has passed at all. In other ways, it feels like it’s been forever. Continue reading The first month