Introduction for Fall 2015: Wanting more summer!

I always have fun during the summer, but this summer was especially great... which means I am especially sorry to see it come to an end. I am excited for Fall, of course, but I sure would enjoy a rewind-and-replay version of this summer. Here are some of the highlights:

Houseguests. My husband's daughter and her son came to visit, which was a blast! (Yes, I got to be an "instant grandma" by getting married to a man with kids and grandkids of his own already.) Grandson is now 13, and suddenly he is is not just taller than I am, but WAY taller than I am. He had fun getting to know our cat Einstein, a stray who adopted us since his last visit; they hit it off just fine as you can see from the two of them taking an afternoon snooze:

Grandson and cat napping.
(personal photo)

Digital Media and Learning 2015. Thanks to the support of OU's College of Arts and Sciences, I went to a conference in LA where I got to learn about all kinds of great digital media initiatives in schools and universities not just all over the U.S. but in other countries too. Here's a video of a quick talk at the conference by my friend Gardner Campbell talking about the history of radio and the new digital broadcasting world:

And here's a picture of me at the conference with two friends I have known for a long time online but who I got to meet in person for the first time. The fellow on the left, Alan Levine, is someone I have known online for over ten years; he blogs at CogDogBlog and is one of my Internet heroes, a real pioneer in blogging and digital storytelling; I'm in the center, and Kim Jaxon, who teaches at CSU Chico, is on the right (she took the picture):

Alan, Laura and Kim at DML 2015

Austin: Fort Kitten. I went to visit my dad in Austin twice this summer (my mother died last spring, and he's feeling pretty lonely of course), so that means I also got to meet up with another friend from the online world in real life, a Classics prof. at UT Austin who spent much of her summer fostering some orphaned kittens. She started calling her house "Fort Kitten" ... and it was fun to see the furry ones in action:

COMIC BOOKS. Thanks to an amazing grant from the OU Libraries, I was able to buy the complete Amar Chitra Katha comic books — something I have been craving for about 20 years! They arrived via air freight, all 33 pounds of them (!) directly from Mumbai, India back in May, and I have been reading comic books all summer long, along with lots of other books that I was able to purchase with the grant money. I am really excited to see what you all in the Indian Epics class will think about these comic books! The screenshot below shows the people in the Library unboxing the package, and I got an identical package of my very own too:

(photo by Stacy Zemke, OU Libraries)

Here are the comic books on my bookshelf (second shelf from bottom on the left); you can read more about the contents of my bookshelves if you are curious (that's a post I wrote for a course I was taking this summer):

Television... And yes, that is a tiny TARDIS from Doctor Who on the top shelf. I'm Doctor-Who-obsessed, but I'm also Star-Trek-obsessed, and I watched more Star Trek than Doctor Who this summer, along with Battlestar Galactica. Other summer TV-watching binges included: Boardwalk Empire (I am still amazed by the final season: what a great show!), all of West Wing (yes, thanks to Netflix, my husband and I watched the whole thing from start to finish), and all of The Wire, which I consider to be the best TV show ever, at least among those shows that take place on planet Earth. And I am still holding out hope that Idris Elba (Stringer Bell in The Wire) will be the next James Bond, even if he himself is denying the rumors.

So, what with fun people, fun felines, fun comic books and fun television, I had a totally fun summer for all of May, June, and July, and the first part of August too. Now I am hunkering down to try to get classes ready to go by August 17. Meanwhile, I hope everybody is enjoying their last blasts of summer fun, and I'll be seeing you soon, back at school online! :-)