Saturday, December 31, 2005

Chicagoist: Berghoff Closes Its Doors

Berghoff Closes Its Doors

Ach. This is hard to believe. When I was in high school and early college, my father's office was just a few blocks from this establishment. We went there for lunch sometimes when I was on a break from school. There's just something about that place that transformed me back to a different time in Chicago: it probably felt more like my father's childhood version Chicago than my own. I'll miss this place.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Thoughts on 2006

I am a planner. We have at least three wall calendars around the house, and I carry a PDA that is always synchronized with my Outlook calendar which is shared with my work colleagues. I love to plan, strategize, and get things down in my calendar. I find that people rely on me to have important events stored in my calendar, along with an up-to-date address book and stuff like that. "Rob, when's the last day of classes?" or "Do you have so-&so's phone number?" I suppose that's the more "type A" side of my personality.

What's funny, though, is that if a plan does not worked out as I, um, planned it (my word-choice creativity level is ZERO today), I typically just move on and develop a new plan. For example, if you've been reading this for a while then you may have noticed that I changed my dissertation writing plan about three times in the past year. That "relaxed" attitude usually is limited to planning things for myself. With things I plan for others, those must be kept on schedule. I'm pretty conscientious about that. This tells me that I can plan well as long as it involves something external to myself. So, am I putting myself on the back burner?

I bring this up because it's starting to hit me that 2006 is no longer the year in which I will finish my Ph.D. There's simply no way: I've not started to write anything officially for my dissertation, and I still have to write, edit, and defend the proposal let alone conduct the research itself. It's been in my mind for a long time that this will all be said and done during the 2006 year, while I'm 35 years old and about 10 years out from my master's degree. And now that ain't gonna happen.

OK, OK, so I'll be 36 and 11 years out from the Master's (said as keeping my fingers crossed and lighting a candle). Big deal. However, when I reflect on it I find it hard to fathom that there have been only seven years of my adult life when I have not been in school: one year prior to my master's and six full-time before coming to LMU. Where has the time gone?? My practical friends would slap me around and remind me that I am gaining work experience while I'm in school. OK, whew. So that means I've been in the higher education field for almost twelve years, if you count the time while I was in my master's program (which most employers do count). That makes me feel a little better. And the main difference now is that I truly enjoy what I'm doing, which isn't something I could say as confidently just a few years ago.

Perhaps I should stop planning so much and focus more on living in the present and DOING. Now there's a novel idea. Perhaps that's my New Year's resolution? Plan less and do more. It has a good ring to it.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Music & Technology

I just walked into Wife's office area of our house, and I heard this great jazz coming out of her computer's speakers. Then I realize that she has downloaded hours of our CD collection into "realplayer," so now she can listen to music she likes whenever she wants. A good idea, this is.

And then it hit me: How is it that I have a degree in music and I'm a better-than-average computer user, and yet I know absolutely nothing about combining these two interests? I'm CLUELESS about newer musical technologies like doing CD downloads, using iPods, iTunes, and all of that stuff. How did I miss this boat?

I had a good chuckle to myself, and then I went back up to my office/prison to prepare for the online course I help to teach while working in utter silence...my CD, record & tape collections gather dust behind me on the shelf.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Weather?

What the f-ck is up with this weather? It was like 58 degrees here today, December 28. I thought I left the Southeast and moved to the Midwest? Huh? I saw a bug outside, alive. ALIVE?? In December??? Our Christmas tree is still up, it's still Hanukkah, and I'm starting to do spring cleaning because it's so damn warm!

OK. Rant over. Hoo boy that was a close one. I feel better now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Post-Holiday Plans

The Christmas weekend was indeed a festive and fun time, and the "family invasion" was very nice, actually. So much of the stress was reduced by not traveling ANYWHERE, except for a day trip to "a nice town" to do some shopping the day after Christmas. Moose is really in his best element here in the confines of Chesterley, and I think the rest of the family understands that now. We're already planning on doing this again here at our place next year, which is good.

So, time to put it all away, pack up the decorations, and realize that Santa is dead, etc. At least, that's my opinion. Wife, however, is more of the opinion of following the twelve days of Christmas, of which this is day 3 (I'd like my French hens now, please). OK, fine. While the Christmas tree is not going to be put away tomorrow, we have agreed to start organizing, and even throwing away, some of the holiday decorations we have stored. I guess after hosting one's first Christmas weekend in one's own home, one realizes what can be kept and what can be chucked. I'm a minimalist in my holiday decoration style, but I usually lose that negotiation. Oh well...it's not really a huge deal.

Now I need to focus back on school and remember that just because I do not work at my Assistantship this week, that does not mean I can just take the week off from The Diss. I'd like to, but I shouldn't. I should take advantage of the time to get stuff done. However, I could justify a vacation pretty easily, though. Hmm...I could use some time off right now.

Yeah, nice job with the positive self-talk there bud. You go on. Dig the hole deeper, that's it.

Hee hee.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Friends & Family

In my calendar, I have marked off the next five days starting with tomorrow with the words "family invasion." This is a tongue-in-cheek phrase: I actually really do like my extended family. Wife's family will descend upon our home for Christmas this weekend, and I'm sure we'll have a great time with lots of food, drink, and probably a few presents hither & yon. And yes, we'll light Chanukah candles, too. It's going to be a big slumber party here at Chesterley for the next several nights, and I'm really looking forward to it. We have the tree all set up, and decorations appear in most rooms in the house. This photo is a more festive corner of our living room/dining room/music room.

Note the cards hanging over the glass doors. One of the things I look forward to this time of year is sending and receiving holiday cards. I like the opportunity to get caught up with friends and family from all over the place. We typically send cards only to friends who do not live here in SCT, since the goal is to update those we rarely see on our lives. Years ago when I lived alone, I started decorating my windows with holiday cards I'd receive, just by tying a piece of string between my perpetually unused curtain rods and hanging pictures along it. It's really the only holiday decoration I'd bother with at that time in my life, but I'm glad we're continuing that tradition here at Chesterley. For me it serves as a reminder of the friends we've gathered in the various places we've lived. The cards are always colorful and festive, and we seem to get more and more each year as our circle of friends grows. So, many thanks to our friends for helping us decorate our house! For me, that's the "meaning" of this holiday: a reflection on the good relationships we have as being one of the better gifts of the season.

And that's probably as sentimental as I'm going to get about Christmas. I'm not a Scrooge or anything, but for me this has always been more a time to reflect on good friends and family than it is a religious thing.

Happy winter solstice to you!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I am a composer.

This post’s title is a difficult sentence for me to write out publicly for two reasons. First, it may come across as snooty or haughty. Second, I feel it presents a high bar that I now need to meet: If people find out I’m a composer, then they are going to expect me to write like Mozart or Handel. At least, that’s the type of discussion going on in my head. That’s probably why I’ve not yet written about it here.

I also never mentioned it when I was seeking my bachelor’s degree in music from a well-known conservatory. Stupid, really. A missed opportunity. I know: this is very self-denigrating behavior, and it is not something I like to do unless I’m just kidding around. But in my head, discussing my composition experiences involves putting a very near and dear part of my brain and heart “out there” for all to see. At that point in my life, I’m not sure that I would have handled criticism of my work, as constructive as it might have been, when I was in college. Still, in retrospect I regret not pursuing that line of my music career more at that time. Who knows what could have happened had I opened up that part of my brain to the rest of the world?

The fact is, I’ve been writing piano music ever since I can remember. While I did not solidify much of it till I was in high school, several melodies were floating around my head, and in my fingers (fellow pianists will understand about a melody being in one’s fingers), all the time. I continue to write a little bit today, and I still play several songs today that I wrote in high school. During my junior year, one of the pieces I wrote was choreographed for an annual spring modern dance concert. That experience still remains as one of the better performing arts experiences of my life: I played the piece solo in the orchestra pit while about 15 people danced to the music in costume, with full lighting design and the whole nine yards. I was 17 years old, and it felt like a pretty big deal at the time.

My reason for bringing all this up is that I’m making all sorts of connections between this notion of embracing my composition tendencies and coming into my own as a researcher, a writer, and therefore (dare I say it) a scholar. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah, if you will, to be able to promote my area of academic expertise and not feel (or sound) like I’m being snobbish or haughty. I’m really just expressing facts. I am a composer. I am developing an area of academic expertise. So why, then, do I have difficulty with self-promotion? Well, it’s probably because of that bar I feel I’ll need to meet when bringing up all of this stuff.

I suppose there is a balance between self-promotion of factual information on the one hand and blowing oneself up to be the best thing since the wheel or the printing press on the other. While I’m all for people being aware of their strengths and their career directions, I admit I get a bit skeptical when others present themselves as The Expert in an Area. I want to say, “Get real. Sure you study that stuff, but so do others and many of them are pretty good at it too.” Again, it’s in the balance. And I suppose it’s in the delivery of information as well.

What’s interesting about these thoughts is how closely related this sort of discussion is to my dissertation research. I guess doctoral students do bring a bit of themselves into their dissertations. After seriously considering about four different topics, it’s this fourth one that is cutting it pretty close to my heart. Part of me thinks I’m treading on some fragile ground here, that I may never deal with my own issues and find a way to muddle through this process. And yet a stronger part of me knows that without my heart right smack dab in the middle of the project, I’d probably never start writing the darn book in the first place.

I have a feeling the composition metaphor is going to be a frequent visitor to this blog from here on out. More and more I realize that my interest in writing this dissertation grows right out of my passion for creating music. It’s funny how life takes us in a big circle sometimes.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

We saw reindeer downtown

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originally uploaded by chesterley.
A longtime friend of mine and Wife is working temporarily in our state's capital, so we decided to drive over and meet him for breakfast. Then we spent a little time doing holiday shopping. I do enjoy larger cities during the winter holidays. I like seeing the different types of people walking around and the festive decorations and such. Feel free to browse a few of our pictures by clicking on this one. We even ran into a couple of reindeer downtown...no joke!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Office/Prison Work Attempt

I was sick yesterday. Had to leave work early, and realized I had a slight fever and a stomach bug. Yum. I'll spare any readers the gory details. I'm fortunately feeling better today.

Am working from home today. So far I've done nothing, as Wife's car needed to go into the shop this morning (why do we BOTH experience car problems within a week of each other, always?), and then I've been on the phone with relatives for a family debriefing of sorts (long story). I've had lunch, and suddenly it's 1:45 PM. Time flies more quickly when trying to work from home.

I have a 5:30 appointment, so I'm determined to focus now for a couple of hours and get something done on this publication I want to submit next month. I'm meeting with Pink tomorrow morning, so I need to have something to show her.

Don't ya wish time could just freeze for about an hour each day?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Almost there...

A while back I mentioned I met with PaW KiTS, or the Person Who Knows This Stuff about all of the administrivia it takes to officially become a doctoral 'candidate,' as opposed to the lowly 'student' as I'm classified today. Last Monday I literally chased my program advisor from his classroom to his office (no joke!) to get him to sign my final paperwork. To make a long story short, I turned in said paperwork to PaW KiTS immediately after making copies of everything. I'm pleased to report that already I see the five courses I'm transferring in from my master's degree appearing on my unofficial LMU transcript. Glad that part is complete! Now I just need to wait to hear from The Graduate School to make sure they accept my program of study, nomination to 'candidacy,' and so forth. As soon as one lingering grade flips over from an incomplete to a "real" grade, then I'm technically all good to go. But I'll feel a sigh of relief only when I see the official word on this stuff. I can't imagine any other barriers, but ya never know.

Blog Page Renovation

This is sort of a geeky post, so disregard if you don't care. If I had categories or tags in this blog (which I really wish I had, actually!), then this would be marked "Geeky."

Yesterday I did two things to the site. First, I put up Chester's winter picture. I'm probably going to start changing that on a regular basis, just for variety's sake. It's similar to my annual rearrangement of the furniture in my office/prison.

Next, there's a Flickr badge appearing to the right that has a mix of several photos from our trip last summer to Cape Cod. I set up a Flickr site in preparation for a digital camera that we're getting in the next week or so. This purchase was inspired by the fact that we tried and tried to find a decent family picture of us from sometime in 2005 to send around as our holiday greeting card. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Nichts. Tons of pictures in general, but nothing of all three humans and one particular canine. Ergo, the digital camera purchase will perhaps offer more photo opportunities. Perhaps more photos will appear here on Chesterley, therefore? Flickr seems pretty cool for both posting to the blog and sharing with friends and fam.

That's about it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Suction

If anyone heard a really loud sucking sound last night around 9:30 PM, that was the sound of my car because it SUCKS.

I had finished a meeting, and it was COLD outside. I turned on the car, cranked up the heat, and released the parking brake. With a shiver of both coldness and trepidation, I noticed there was no tension in the lever, where usually it quickly falls to the floor of that compartment in between the front seats. I took my foot off the brake pedal, and the car didn't roll backward. "Hmm...maybe it's just too cold to roll," thought I, quizzically, and perhaps hopefully. Then I took up the clutch, accelerated backward just a bit to exit the parking space, put the clutch back in to shift into first gear, and then I realized something was weird: The car was at a dead stop, and yet, I was on a slight decline and my foot was NOT on the brake pedal. CRAP, the emergency brake is at it again!

Yes, again.

Last year at right about this time (last week of classes and first whopping cold snap), the parking brake cables froze. At the time I didn't know what it was, and like an idiot I DROVE HOME smelling brake dust. This idiot had to pay far too much money because he (I?) wore the brake pads down to the rotors. They replaced the rear brake pads and BOTH rotors, even though only one was damaged, because one does not replace only one rotor at a time, so I hath learnt. They got the parking brake cable to release its Vulcan grip on my brakes, but they did not replace the cables themselves. A different handy mechanic informed me last summer that those cables need to be replaced. The cheap graduate student in me realized that I was lucky to have it working at all, and decided not to bother spending the $ fixing it till next winter.

It is winter now. I was not all that surprised when I came to a dead stop in middle of the sloped parking lot with neither of my two feet on any of the three pedals. Augh.

This year, this idiot got smarter. I pulled right back into the parking space and turned off the car. Fortunately an acquaintance was leaving the building at that very moment, and she agreed to drive me home. This morning it was AAA to the rescue, God bless them: they came and towed the car to a fine establishment specializing in brakes and other things. By the end of the day the car was fixed for a mere fraction of what this former idiot self paid last year.

Just in time for 7 inches of snow to accumulate in about 5 five hours! Glad I have a car. They also noticed corrosion on the battery, so they fixed that, fortunately for me. That battery was replaced last year too.

NOW do you hear the sucking sound??

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

You're sitting at my table.

I arrived at the cafe this morning for my weekly meeting with Pink. I was running late, and she had already scoped out one of the "good" tables with an electric outlet and a good overhead lamp. But it wasn't our usual table: there were other people sitting where we normally sit. There are telltale signs that it's the last week of classes: the cafe has even more people studying and camping out here all day. I was tempted to approach "our" table, stare at the current occupants with a confused look, and then say, "It's Tuesday. This is our table. What are you doing here?" I decided to take the higher road and just move over to the spot Pink scoped out, and here I sit after about three hours. And so does the other couple, the impostors, sit at "my" space.

OK, maybe I really need to get out of here?

Things are going OK today: I'm focused. I'm editing the paper I received feedback on the other day. DC is going to help me find a spot to get the thing published, so it's well-worth the extra time. Afterward I'll create Dissertation Schedule 3 and see if it's one I can maintain this time around. No other academic hurdles in my way now (as far as I know, at least...ugh!), so I don't see any way around not sticking to it this time.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Calm First Week in December?

Tomorrow starts the last week of fall classes, and I have nothing pressing for the first time since I can remember. Even when I was working full-time prior to my move to SCT, this time of year would be busy with arranging the final details for running January new student orientation, so I was anything but relaxed. As I'm looking at my schedule for the upcoming week, I'm not feeling stressed. Certainly I have plenty of work ahead of me, but no deadlines looming overhead like vultures in a tree awaiting its next innocent prey. So, what I'm missing?

Wife and I decorated our Christmas tree this evening, and I pulled out my Menorah as well. I grew up with both Christian and Jewish traditions in my home. I've not celebrated Chanukah during the 8 years of my marriage, but this year I decided we'll start doing it. It's a simple holiday and it reminds me of my dad, so I figured it's high time. This holiday season brings about another first for our marriage: we are not slated to travel anywhere the entire month. Wife's family will join us here in SCT this year, and it should be a nice, relaxed time.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Status Report

I am pleased to report that Wife came home to a home with three well-fed, well-groomed men (yes, Chester is a "man" in this little scene, OK?), staying in a house that was not only still standing but was particularly well-kept (I vacuumed and dusted: Martha would be proud) and anxious for her return. I then went out and hunted, killed, and prepared our evening feast of Chinese food from the place around the corner, as this is traditional end-of-road-trip fare for the residents of Chesterley.

Moose and I had a good time together, even with Chester herding us around every which way. Wife was greeted Moose's big smile, Chester's loud bark and need to play fetch, and my sigh of relief that I'm not doing this all alone anymore. I handled the three solo days just fine, I'd say, but I'm sure glad Wife and I have each other.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Moose, Myself and Chester

Wife has had to run out of town for a few days to attend the funeral of a family friend. This leaves me alone with Moose and Chester till Friday night. I don't think I've ever done this before for more than a day at a time, so it should be interesting.

Last night, our discussion sounded like:
"So, what do you DO all afternoon?" asked I.
"You know, we play, we do this & that. That's also when we run to the grocery store. By the way, can you pick up more diapers?" said Wife, as she batted her eyelids.
"Wait, so, what exactly do you DO with him? Diapers? Huh? What kind do we get?" In a panic, I forgot that I really am an adult, and of course I reverted to my childlike helplessness.
"I'll write it down for you. Relax."
I mean, they may give me a Ph.D. someday, but they won't teach me these basics. Wish me luck! Gotta go chase the Moose...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reading That Which I Wrote

In preparation for my afternoon meeting with DC, I'm re-reading the paper I turned into her two weeks ago. This is not for the faint of heart. I can see how I wrote this in pieces, and not quite all of the pieces fit together just yet. Oh well, it was designed to be a good working draft of something larger to get published. But does that justify the incomplete sentence at the end of the second paragraph?

GOOD GRIEF!

I guess when I make myself stay up all night to finish the paper, my early-morning proofing job doesn't go so well.

I'm actually finding it physically difficult to make myself re-read this paper. The blood pressure rose just a bit. Did I really turn this in to DC?? OK, wait, here's a good section on page 5. Well, the theoretical framework is looking OK for now. But what about the data analysis section? Not sure I can get through that again.

It's like I'm reading this paper as if I've not written it myself, and yet somehow I know every word. It's a very strange experience for me: coming back to a paper I finished up a couple of weeks ago, and willingly subjecting myself to the meeting in about two hours where I'm going to be brought through the academic sieve like clumpy flour about to go into cake. Usually, I turn in papers, read feedback on them, occasionally make some changes here & there if needed and move on. This is the beginning of the constant review process, the constant world of criticism that one NEEDS in order to grow. But am I ready to have my work pulverized into dough only to be baked up into another souffle that will deflate if Moose stomps too hard on the kitchen floor? Can I deal with my blood pressure rising each time I re-read something I wrote?

Well, it's not like I've never been subjected to criticism of my own work before. I have a degree in music: people commented, criticized, and complained about noise I'd make on the piano for years. I guess the difference is that with a live performance, the music doesn't necessarily hang in the air in quite the same way that the written word sticks around forever. A music recording could miss a nuance here or there. The printed word, however, is crystal clear (unless using a mimeograph machine from the 70s, but let's not go off on a tangent here) (oh, guess I just did) (oh well).

Sigh. Back to reading, then. Yep, here's a paragraph I may cut on page 6. Well, hopefully DC will appreciate the fact that I'm coming back to her with some of my own edits. We shall see. I'll keep you posted to let you know what type of dough I turn into after today's meeting. Hoo boy.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Blah Day

Today was a Blah Day. Know what I mean? I'm just a bit tired, not all that motivated. I thought coming back to my own pace and my own place in the world would energize me and allow me to get cranking on stuff for the diss. Not so. Perhaps it's the changing weather? Perhaps it's still a lack of academic feedback on things. Fortunately, I'm meeting with DC tomorrow to go over the big pilot study paper I handed in recently. It was "a draft," so I'm gearing up to hear the feedback and will attempt not to judge my entire since of self-worth as she drags my brain through a meat grinder and spits it out into nicely woven-together links of psychological task matter.

I'm just kidding. You see, I get extremely sarcastic, to the point of complete ridiculousness. Most find it funny, while a few start to wonder if I'm losing it. So, to anyone who thinks I'm losing it: GET REAL. It's called a sense of humor, OK? To those who get it: I'm glad ya got it.

I'm determined that tomorrow will not be as "blah" a day. It's my study day, so hopefully I'll be able to get through some organizational stuff and some reading before I meet with DC. We shall see.

Three nights, not four

Note to self: visits to out-of-town relatives should only be for three nights or fewer. Three nights provides plenty of time to catch up with people without feeling like you're missing out on something at home.

We're back in SCT, safe and sound after a seven hour drive that should have taken five. Ugh.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

City Experience: Winter Wonderland-ish


Yesterday Wife and I received a nice holiday gift: an afternoon in the city, just the two of us. First, I accompanied Wife on a trip to get her haircut. And you're probably thinking, "Really?". Well, I like the location. Her hairdresser lives in this cool 26th-floor condo on the far north side of Chicago overlooking the beach, and she does hair in one of the bedrooms. Great views! She also does hair & make-up for commercials and movies, so it's always fun to hear the stories of the people whose faces she's painted, and so forth. The stories always remind me of when I worked as a stage manager for the Opera where I met Wife, so we always have a good time when we visit Hairdresser.

Hairdresser allowed us to leave our car at her place, so after tipping the doorman a couple of dollars, we then spent $1.75 on a public bus that whisked us to the top of Michigan Avenue in about 7 minutes. It was nice to not have to deal with that traffic, let alone the fact that we probably saved about $25 in parking! We had a nice lunch at a Thai place at 900 North Michigan Avenue, and then we walked around with hundreds of other people going shopping, etc.

It's now the time of year that I don't mind hearing holiday music and seeing decorations, etc. Anytime before Thanksgiving is way too early, in my opinion. We spent hardly any money (don't forget what I do for a living), but the big-city experience was much fun. Just a couple of hours later we paid another $1.75 and took the bus back up the north side to retrieve our car.

Moose did well with his grandmother yesterday, and he got to hang out with his cousins, aunt & uncle (and some friends) during the day. We of course ate leftovers last night, and that's about it. Much fun!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Trip

We made it through busy Chicago traffic to arrive safely at my mom's home last night. The trip was fine, though it took us two hours longer than normal due to an accident in northern Indiana and long lines at toll booths on the way into the city. However, this could have been much worse, so we're thankful we arrived in time for dinner and such.

Moose woke up at 2:45 this morning and probably didn't go back to sleep afterward (not sure...I was sleeping through most of it). We'll play it by ear if we're going to stay here through Sunday or take off a day early to get him into his own bed.

The Thanksgiving day will be calm, with my sister & her family joining us for the meal. We have lots to be thankful for this year, as with other years. Most members of my family are relatively healthy and happy. Even with the complexities life brings us, our lives seem relatively simple when compared to those who truly have had major losses this year. I savor this family time: one of my favorite times of the year. As my family has expanded with my sister and I finding partners and growing our families, the food we eat at Thanksgiving has changed with the addition of combining other families' recipes into our own tables. This is fun. I like to see the changes. I've never needed to replicate the exact same holiday traditions year after year. I guess since my family has always been so mixed (my father was Jewish and my mother is technically Catholic), and becomes even more diverse as time goes by, the holidays have always been about bringing together various customs into one place. Makes life more interesting that way, in my opinion.

This is the first Thanksgiving since 2001 that I do not have a major end-of-semester paper or project hanging over my head that must be completed in three weeks. Very different! Sure, I have this dissertation to construct, but without a looming deadline I plan to spend a few days not working on school-related things. Big change for me for this time of year!

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks as always for taking the time to read this blog.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Romper Room 2

The houses of Chesterley and Three Bed Two Bath joined forces last night for a lovely evening. You may recall when I first met Hugh's Missis a while back; she and Wife met at a Kindermusik class here in SCT. Hugh and I go back to high school in the 80s, though we've not seen each other since then. So, we all sung a round of "It's a Small World After All," ate pizza, attempted to keep up with our children playing in the back yard and basement of Chesterley, threw the ball to Chester himself till he puked (oops!), and really had a great time!

Chester is just fine now, by the way. Must have been a stomach bug.

Moose was actually quite social last night, when normally he keeps to himself around those he doesn't know very well. I guess it takes good people to bring out the socialite in him. Thanks 3B2B folk!

Hugh played our piano so his D#1 could sing for us: very cute. I was reminded of when Hugh was one of the choral directors of a student-run musical I was fortunate enough to be cast in during my freshman year in high school. Who would have thought 20 years later he'd be playing piano for his DAUGHTERS and my SON in my living room?? Wow. Guess we're all grown up now.

Thanks for a nice evening, everyone! Hope to have another gathering sometime soon.

Dramatis Personae

Given the growing list of characters featured in this blog, I just added a cast list immediately underneath the profile box.

I must admit, I really enjoy tinkering with the background details of this blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone..."

Last night I stayed up late and finally finished up the pilot study. Really late. At 7:15 AM today I went to bed. Yep. That was about 45 minutes after Wife and Moose rose for the day. Wife woke me up about 90 minutes later to make sure I got to campus in time for my 10:00 AM meeting with DC (that's Dissertation Chair).

All went quite well with the meeting. I gave DC the completed pilot study so she'd have plenty of reading material (35 pages) for a trip she's taking this evening. She seemed pleased. I explained that writing this piece was a bit like assembling an orchestra for the first time. Each part had been well-rehearsed beforehand, but pulling the full rehearsal together for the first time was a little noisy. That made her laugh. "You and your wife with these musical jokes!" she said. The paper isn't publishable just yet, but it's a COMPLETED draft. My Incomplete from last semester should turn into some sort of passing grade sometime soon. Hopefully, DC will work with me on submitting this piece for publication somewhere, later on down the road.

An aside: During the writing session last night, I received an email informing me that my proposal to present the results of this study were accepted at a well-known higher education conference next March. Woohoo! That certainly gave me the motivation to get the thing done last night!

Back to my meeting this morning: We then had a great discussion about my dissertation, the method, the timeline, etc. It was good. I needed the feedback. I've been feeling too disconnected from the faculty this semester since I'm no longer in coursework and I really haven't started writing the dissertation proposal. I've been catching up on these lingering papers (no feedback from Program Advisor, unfortunately), learning about Moose's autism, dealing with flat-on-the-back allergies, eating bon-bons: you know, the usual. Today's feedback was well-timed. I admit I was getting grumpy during these past few days, but now I feel I have a better direction.

I'm extending the timeline on the dissertation, but that's not a huge surprise. The new anticipated complete date will be August of 2007. It makes sense: I can take my time writing a solid proposal this spring. Data collection will happen in the fall and spring of the 2006-2007 academic year, and I can write up the results next summer. I may look for a full-time position for next year during the data collection process. We shall see. It's taking me longer than I had hoped, but "life happens" (I'm quoting a supportive DC), and I'm just pleased finally to have a plan that I can actually see working.

OK, this is getting too long. I'm off to bed now, for the second time today.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Flow - Finally!

I don't know what it is, but I'm focused and productive today. I haven't felt this sort of "flow" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) (apologies to Lemming for the citation, but I couldn't help it!) in a long time. Looks like I'll finally get the pilot study out of my hands very soon. Part of this is due to the fact this f-cker needs to be done by 10:00 AM Wednesday, before Dissertation Chair leaves town: I'm supplying her with reading material for her plane ride. There's nothing like a solid external deadline for promoting internal focus.

When I experience productivity like this, things don't seem so daunting, and the sky is no longer falling around me. How 'bout that? I gain more confidence in my writing ability. What's hard for me is dealing with so little feedback so much of the time, and that's probably where I get stalled, emotionally. So, I look to Wednesday morning as an opportunity to gain some feedback from Dissertation Chair (DC for short?) which usually inspires me to keep going.

I'm pleased to announce that today's productivity actually happened within the home Office/Prison! If I can keep up with this, than my life may become more simple. We shall see. I'm sure I'll need to get out of the house hither & yon.

Let's see how things are continuing to flow tomorrow.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Motivation Lacketh

In my early 1990s college days, a popular phrase to use when people would complain about a large amount of work they had to do was "Sucks to be you!" Also, when complaining about one's own large workload, one could say, "Sucks to be me!" A friend of mine used the following remodeling of this phrase, which I prefer:
Aye. For to be me, it sucketh now.
Perfect timing for that phrase today. I'm unmotivated, as the weather is nice, there is a yard to be tended (which I enjoy), etc., and yet I'm stuck inside finishing up this last pilot study write-up. I've learned what I'm going to learn from this study long ago. Now the act of writing it up is external to my motivational core, if you will. Ida is back (that is, my friend Ida Wanna), and she's pulling me out the door of the Office/Prison to go play and have fun.

I guess I better start focusing on being motivated by the feeling I'll have when all of this external stuff is done. And at least the Office/Prison is clean. Yeah yeah, yada yada and all that stuff. YOU try to find motivation to work on a 69-degree sunny mid-November day, OK?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What's your hidden talent?

This one made me happy, though I probably err on the side of communicating a little bit too much!

Your Hidden Talent

You are a great communicator. You have a real way with words.
You're never at a loss to explain what you mean or how you feel.
People find it easy to empathize with you, no matter what your situation.
When you're up, you make everyone happy. But when you're down, everyone suffers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday Focus

I'm back at the cafe now. I had a helpful meeting with Pink Princess today who is making good progress through her first chapter. I helped her with some edits. In return, she's pushing me to finish up this pilot study this week. Good plan! If I can focus and follow her idea, then I MAY be on track for getting into my actual Dissertation Chapter 1 next week. Don't hold your breath, but man would that be exciting!!!

I'm off to grab lunch and get back into this stuff. While I like this initial study, I think I'll like it even more when it's complete. The next post or two may be to help me process all the stuff in my head related to the study...we'll see.

K, bye.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Allergy Update

I went to an allergy specialist in town. They have a large operation for a town of this size, and I was pleased to see it's a husband-wife team who are both DOs, or Doctors of Osteopathy. My sister-in-law is a DO general practice doc, and they tend to blend the use of medications with things that are more natural. For example, Moose and I both get craniosacral therapy once in a while, as recommended by a DO (it's the COOLEST, by the way).

Anyhow (wow, BIG digression there! I'm wide awake this evening), I had my shoulders and arms pricked and be-shotted about 90 times (I'm not exaggerating) in a half hour to learn that I'm allergic to four types of "major molds" (both outdoors and indoors) in addition to dust mites. At least I finally know what the hell has been going on with me this fall. Now I'm hopefully on the proper medications.

Hey, I was able to rake leaves without my head exploding, so the stuff must be working!

Onward and Thitherward

Alright, I finally turned in that doggone paper this morning via electronic mail. I didn't quite meet my self-imposed deadline, but the professor won't know it, nor do I suspect he'd mind. "Subfusc" remained in the paper, and after all that I think I indeed learned something from the exercise (fear not, I'll spare you the gory details). Still, this was the longest 12-page paper I've ever written! Far longer than the 30-pager I'm working on now to finish up the final incomplete from last semester (this one's the dissertation pilot).

I guess having my qualifying exams in the middle of the semester really kicked my ass more than I care to admit. Perhaps summer would have been better? Ah, who cares. They're over, gone & passed.

Anyhow, I rewarded myself for finishing the paper by having a beer at lunch (something I rarely if ever do), and then I spent much of the afternoon with Moose (pet name for Son) out in the backyard raking leaves. More on leaf-raking in a later post.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Subfusc

From the Dictionary.com Word of the Day site:
subfusc \sub-FUHSK\, adjective:
Dark or dull in color; drab, dusky.
I like it. I'll have to figure out a way to incorporate it into the paper I'm about to complete. How about something along the lines of: "The postmodernist organizational theories described in this section turned the classic theories on their sides and removed a somewhat subfusc shroud from these newer organizational concepts."

Perhaps. This professor may enjoy this sort of description. Then again...

I dunno. I'm actually looking for a word like this that I'd like to attempt to throw into the dissertation at some point, just because I can.

OK, I just need to finish this paper now before I become too prolix!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My last non-dissertation paper is "due" tomorrow.

There, I said it. And even "out loud," so to speak. I need to set a due date for myself and stick to it, even if it requires an all-night writing party tonight. Putting this date up on the blog will (hopefully) make me stick to this deadline. It's not an impossible one.

The paper I mention here is one I need to complete in order to transfer in a course from my master's degree. It's not a tough paper, but it's just not directly related to my dissertation or much else I'm interested in, for that matter. My motivation for this is practically non-existent, therefore, and yet I'm putting this in front of my dissertation priorities because I need it done before I even consider defending my dissertation proposal. However, with other aspects of life going as they have been going lately, I've needed a break from school. Let's call it my "fall break." Net result: nada, nichts, rien, nothing has happened with the dissertation since a few paragraphs were written at the beginning and end of the writing retreat a couple of weeks ago.

Guess I need to give myself a break about this hiatus and get my assets back in gear. Actually, when I reflect on the experience of writing this one last paper, it IS serving the purpose of getting my brain around this literature (organizational behavior) and it COULD help as a part of my dissertation literature review. Or, at least, it could help my thought process on explaining the effects of a university's organizational structure on fostering (or hindering) academic identity development.

Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch, but at this point in my career I need to have a tangible reason for writing a paper!

Wow, this turned out to be a cathartic post. I think I'm actually going to focus a bit more on this bugger of a paper now.

Thanks to anyone actually reading this purge of my rather full brain!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Eyeglasses & Halloween Costumes

I picked up a new pair of eyeglasses this morning, pictured here. This is a very different look for me: a big change from the wire-rims I've had since 2002 (and the only other pair of glasses I've ever worn). Wife isn't going to recognize me this evening, so I'm calling it my Halloween costume for this year! I've seen myself in the mirror and I wonder who the heck that is looking back at me.

Speaking of Halloween, our son is dressing up as a giraffe tonight. It was on sale at the clothing resale shop in town. Wife and I were very pleased that he actually wore the costume, with a head piece and everything, a couple of weeks ago. Big step for someone who hates hats! Let's hope the weather holds up tonight to allow for trick-or-treating.

Random post. I'm procrastinating from writing, which I'm going to get back to doing right...about...now.

Autism Conference 2

Has it really been a week since I've posted? Time flies.

The MAAP Conference on Autism was really quite helpful last weekend. Wife and I learned a good amount of information from the medical, educational, and social points of view. We met many very interesting and warm people. We also had the pleasure of hearing Temple Grandin speak at the conference. She is the author of Thinking in Pictures and several other books on both autism and animal behavior (she has a Ph.D. in the area, which is truly remarkable for anyone, let alone someone with autism). She autographed our copy of Thinking in Pictures. We asked her to dedicate her signature to our son. Someday whenever he starts reading he'll have a really special treasure from this incredible woman.

Naturally we're exhausted and are pretty much on overload from the entire discussion of autism. Nevertheless it was time well-spent. We finally have a good view for what our son's future looks like based on numerous others we met who are living relatively normal, successful lives with autism. It will be slow going for a while, but one promising thing we learned is that the symptoms our son struggles with now will only improve with time. This was VERY encouraging to us; I think this would be harder if Autism was degenerative in nature.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This might take longer than I thought

I keep hearing this statement is a common trend among those of us writing dissertations. I guess I'm not surprised.

The dilemma now is the timing of my data collection (qualitative interviews). One committee member is suggesting waiting till the fall. If Advisor agrees, then my personal plan falls apart. I was hoping to have the data collection completed next semester so I could seek a full-time job starting in the summer. I know that analyzing the data and writing the results & implications chapters on the side of a full-time post would not necessarily be easy. However, I don't know if I can go a fifth year as a full-time doctoral student. Not that I don't love the lifestyle, but the lack of a paycheck is wearing very thin very fast.

There I go again, worrying about things in the future that haven't happened yet, and may never happen. AUGH! If I can focus this week on finishing up the unfinished business from my Writing Retreat, then I'll have a chance to get to a point where data collection CAN happen in the spring.

Thinking positively, I sign off for the evening. Bye.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Autism Conference

Wife and I will attend a conference on Autism next weekend (her folks will come to SCT to watch Son for these couple of days). Click the link embedded into this post's title for more information, if interested.

Temple Grandin is one of the keynote speakers. She is a 50-something woman with a Ph.D. in animal behavior, and she is autistic. She's one of the few people I've ever heard who can actually explain what it is like to be autistic to those of us who are not. She's written several books, and I'm currently reading her second one called Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. I've only just started it recently, but it's fascinating thus far. While she has a "different" way of communicating and writing, she's communicating nonetheless. The amount of brainpower coming out of this woman is incredible, so it will be a pleasure to have the chance to hear her speak in person.

I've attended numerous conferences over the past 11 years as part of various jobs in higher education. However, I have yet to attend a conference with my wife, so I'm really looking forward to the experience, on several levels.

Request for Technical Assistance

This isn't really a big deal, but I'm just curious: does anyone out there know why the "Technorati" icon isn't showing up in my sidebar? I have a Technorati profile, and the URL and other coding is embedded into the sidebar section of my blog's template near the coding of the other buttons (it's supposed to be in between my Bloglines and Firefox butons). It's not appeared there in a few months, and I'm wondering if others have experienced trouble with this?

I can't stand it when something technical decides not to work for some unknown reason!

But once again, it's really not a big deal in the scheme of things.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

First Week after the Retreat

While I don't miss the separation from my family and the self-induced pressure to get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time last week, I do miss the simple life I led. This week has been a catch-up week at work, catching up on the number of hours missed by being away, that is. It went well, but I didn't get anything accomplished on papers and such.

However, earlier this week I asked my minor advisor to join my dissertation committee, and he agreed. I'm excited about this because I like his advising and communication styles. He questions things I'll say about my topic with a simple, "I don't know what that means," or "Tell me more about how that works." If I can't respond to him, then he's found a gap and I have more work to do; if I can respond to him appropriately, then I know I'm on the right track. We have good arguments. These are not arguments that either of us are competing to win. On the contrary, it's a good way to communicate for us because it gets the pertinent issues out on the table. He likes the topic and is an expert at putting together a variety of research studies, so it will be good to have him on board as my Outside Person (i.e. he's from a different academic department).

OK, I'm off to get some writing done this morning prior to when the football games start up on TV.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Writing Retreat - Days 5 & 6

The writing retreat has been well-worth the trip. I finished up a couple of projects that I have been struggling with for a long time, and it's a good feeling to leave those behind me. There is one more that's still looming overhead, but at least I've started it. Starting it is half the battle for me, so I should finish things up pretty soon.

I have lost my steam these past couple of days, so I've not been as productive lately. It's definitely time to go home. Yesterday was slow, but I did finish up Project A officially. Then I spent the evening with an old friend and her family.

Mid-afternoon today when I realized I wasn't getting much done, I chalked it up to needing to get the heck out of this house. Also, weather is nice here today (I HATE allergies!). So, I drove over to my favorite local Lake Michigan beach and just stared at the water for a piece. That was nice. I came back to the house and had a good chat with the couple who lives in the house next door. He's a freelance writer who works at home, so we had a good amount to discuss in that regard! They have kids around the same age as Son, so it was nice to have a good social chat with people in a similar place in life.

Tomorrow is my day to drive home, but not till the late afternoon. I'm taking an old friend to the Bear's game. Should be fun, but I'm really looking forward to a safe arrival home.

Am off now to find a bite to eat somewhere and then to attempt to get a little more work done on this paper before packing up my things this evening. But I expect I'll have a little wine with dinner on my last night in town.

Thanks for reading this week. More once I return to Small College Town (unless I'm so inspired later tonight).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Writing Retreat - Day 4

Well...this wasn't as productive a day as the others, but I did get SOMEWHERE. I'm trying to get through a bunch of reading for Lingering Paper #2, and it's going OK, just slowly.

Tonight was my night to just hang out at Relative's house alone, and it was nice. I ordered my own Chicago-style pizza (mmm) and watched some TV for a bit. Then I spoke with a colleague on the phone for a while, which was very good and provided some much needed social contact from someone who "understands."

I think my allergies are diminishing here a little bit, but I'm relieved I was able to find a replacement for the prescription decongestant I've been on for a while at the local Walgreens. I run out of the stuff tomorrow, and the last thing I need now is another sinus infection. TMI, I know. Sorry, but it's my blog! :-)

Tomorrow will be productive. I'm determined to have a good draft of this Lingerer done before I have dinner with an old friend tomorrow evening.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Writing Retreat - Day 3

This was a productive day in that I good solid draft of Project A, and I shipped it to a colleague who will provide some feedback for me. Then, I started outlining/brainstorming about Lingering Paper #2. I hope to knock out this one tomorrow and have it be over & done with. Frankly I've been avoiding this paper for a while because the topic is very general and I don't have a lot of guidance. Still, it really shouldn't be that difficult, and getting something completed for this is better than having it continue to linger! Send good thoughts my way: this is the one I'm dreading the most of this week.

Spent another evening at the home of my sister and brother-in-law, hanging out with the nephews and helping out with their evening routine. We all wish we lived closer together. Who knows what will happen with our location in the next year?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Solitude

I have a "grass is always greener" relationship with solitude.

In general I'm an extraverted, social guy, especially with people I know well. I often gain energy from being around others. There are times, however, when I become overwhelmed with interpersonal communication and I crave sitting in my cave by myself. And yet, too much alone time makes me pine for interpersonal interaction.

I must admit I was nervous about taking this retreat. Think about it: I purposely took time away from my family and friends, traveled to another state, and am practically locking myself in Relative's home in order to get this work done. Part of me thought, "Am I NUTS? Am I going to lose my mind??" However, another part of me knew I should savor this time and use it wisely."

Fortunately, I've learned to be OK with the rarther brown grassy lawn of solitude this week. While I don't particularly enjoy the alone time, I do enjoy the fact that I finally am feeling productive, more so than I have felt in several months. I'm maintaining a more simple life this week. I desperately miss the companionship of my wife and the playfulness of my son, but I don't miss the feeling of being torn apart by having to choose my studies over my family. These past two days, I've worked during the day and have felt no guilt about hanging out with relatives and friends at night. If I can achieve a similar balance after I return home next week, then perhaps I can start to get my life's balance back? Perhaps I can handle the alone time at home better if I reward myself with family/friend time in the evenings.

You'd think that by the 22nd grade I would have all this crap figured out??

Writing Retreat - Day 2

A grey day hung over Chicago today and it just should have rained! There are few things I do not miss about living in Chicago, but one of them is the grey autumn and winter weather where no precipitation falls from the sky all day long! Oh well: at least I wasn't missing anything as I sat here inside Relative's house at the computer.

It was a productive day, but slower than I had originally planned. I finished up Lingering Paper #1, final draft and all, and I sent it to the professor. Yay!

I started working on "the other project," and I hope to have that finished up tomorrow. I may chunk away at that one tonight in front of the TV.

Tomorrow I need to power away through Lingering Paper #2 as quickly as possible, because I really want to spend most of my time on Lingering Paper #3, the pilot study to my dissertation.

At the beginning of this week, I had grand plans to finish the three Lingerers by the end of the day today and then start on the dissertation proposal itself tomorrow. Now I'm more realistic: I realize that even if I ONLY finish the Lingerers this week, then I'll still be farther along had I not come on this retreat at all. When at home from here on out, I'll only need to focus on the dissertation proposal itself. I hope I can stick to my "realistic" schedule and get all this stuff done this week.

My evening entertainment was hanging out at my sister & brother-in-law's home with their two kids. It was much fun. My brother-in-law even helped me fix a couple of minor issues with my VW. Also, I got to hold my four-month-old nephew several times, which always puts me right to sleep. Zzz...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Writing Retreat - Day 1

I'd say today (well technically yesterday) was a successful first day, even though I didn't get through my entire list. I do have a decent schedule set out for myself for the rest of the week, and I did just about finish Lingering Paper #1. I was reminded about Project A (thanks to a colleague who commented to the post below this one), so I need to get on that in the morning before hitting Lingering Paper #2.

After a day of solitude & writing, and I enjoyed dinner at the home of a good friend from high school and her family. I had not yet met her youngest child, now two years old, so it was fun to play board games with their children and have a good meal with old friends. I stayed there till Midnight catching up! Sign of an enjoyable evening.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Writing Retreat Begins!

Greetings from the home of Relative, set in idyllic suburban Chicago. I arrived yesterday afternoon and attended a block party that was happening in Relative's neighborhood (I know another couple in the neighborhood). Then I went out for dinner with my sister, brother-in-law (& their two kids) to celebrate their anniversary. Needless to say, it was a nice arrival here. I'm now settled into the house for the next week.

And now it's time to get crankin'. My plan is to focus and be productive while the sun is up. Then I should be able to relax at night. I will exercise each morning (already did that today) and be at the desk as early as I can, when my brain is "on."

I'll probably post here at the end of each day so I feel like I have some accountability on a regular basis. I also have a couple of "foot-tapping" friends back home, waiting to hear about my progress. You know, tapping their foot, arms folded, waiting for a response. Did that joke work over a blog? I dunno.

Anyhow, I have three Lingering Papers, two from last semester and one to revalidate a course I took in my master's degree in 1995. The over-arching plan for the week is to get through the Lingering Papers and have a very good, solid outline for Chapter 1 of The Dissertation. Today I plan to do the following:
  • Get a good, realistic schedule planned out for the week
  • Finish Lingering Paper #1 (it's about halfway done now)
  • Do research/outline for Lingering Paper #2 (the revalidation paper I've been avoiding for a while, I must admit)
Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Not THIS Kind of Doctor!

You Should Get a MD (Doctor of Medicine)

You're both compassionate and brilliant - a rare combination.
You were born to be a doctor.

Brilliant? Me? I dunno...

I've actually never considered medicine. Interesting questions to ponder, nonetheless.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Opportunistic, yet frustrated

I have a fantastic opportunity, and I don't remember if I've mentioned it. One of my relatives is traveling out of the country for a couple of weeks, so I'm going to house-sit for her and take advantage of the solitude to complete a major portion of the writing done on my dissertation proposal. At least, that's my hope. My generous in-laws are coming to SCT to help Wife with Son while I'm gone. And my mother & sister/family all live near the place where I'm house-sitting, so I plan to have some home-cooked evening meals after what I hope to be productive days of writing. I feel very fortunate to have support from my extended family. I leave this Sunday 10/9 and will return the following Sunday.

I had planned to be much further along in the writing process at this point than I am. However, I'm still working on finishing up an incomplete and this silly revalidation paper, and it's giving me the blues. One of the reasons for not being finished is beyond my control: these allergies are kicking my ass. I've felt under the weather for the past month. Also, I've never experienced an allergy to doing something I LOVE to do for relaxation & focus: being outside. I think it's getting me down more than I realized.

The other reason for not being as far along as I had hoped is probably a bit more in my control: it's the notion of developing a structure for myself and then sticking to it. Sure, I have a set schedule developed: that was no problem for me. Sticking to the schedule...now that's another story. I've found it hard to focus, and I'm not sure what the hell is going on. Suffice it to say that at this point, I'm just so angry at myself that I haven't gone as far as I'd like that I'm probably going to be motivated by my frustration rather than by any structure I try to implement on myself. This isn't necessarily the type of drive I was looking for to plow through this stuff, but nevertheless it's probably going to be the motivator I need.

I tend to work well under pressure, so perhaps I'm scheduling TOO MUCH time for myself to get this work done? That sounds ridiculous. But I'm actually a very fast writer and am often more motivated by a deadline than by much else. So maybe this next week will be a good way to condense a great deal of work into a relatively short amount of time. However, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. It's sort of a balance there, I suppose.

I will have internet access from the house-sitting location, so I'm sure I'll continue posting in the week to come.

Well, I'm off to attempt to get something completed before heading off to work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Diagnosis

Everything went very well at the children's hospital. The day went smoothly (though very long) and our son was his normal angelic self, which frankly was pleasantly surprising with all the new things he encountered that day. We figured he would be crabby at some point, but really that wasn't the case.

The diagnosis from the hospital is indeed autism. This is not a surprise, though it certainly makes us sad. Our plans for today and the next few months certainly are no different as a result of this diagnosis. However our vision for the future is now a big question mark. I guess it will just force us to live in the moment and not worry as much about the future. Living in the present isn't my strong point, but Wife and I can hold each other up throughout this process.

The nice thing we kept hearing is that we're doing the right thing for him now, so we just need to continue onward. We were relieved that we never heard anything like, "You're going to need to change the way you do 'X' with him." On the contrary, they were quite complimentary. This was good to hear since both Wife and I are the types to blame ourselves for these sorts of things.

The preschool he's in now will do its own evaluation by the end of this month. We suspect a similar diagnosis, but it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. The school has been fantastic with our son, so we suspect they'll be part of our team that helps him learn.

So, onward and forward. Son is a great kid, and with any child it's the parents' job to stick by him and help him grow and develop in whatever manner that may be. Wife and I are relieved to have a diagnosis and to no longer be in the dark as to what's going on with him.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Journey Begins

We're in a hotel in Large City to the North, getting ready for a day-long cognitive evaluation for Son at Well-Known Children's Hospital. Wife and I are feeling quite ready for any diagnosis that may come about as a result of the day. At least we'll know SOMETHING!

More later. Suffice it to say it's the beginning of what will be a very different day for our family.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

VW Blues

I absolutely love driving my 1999 VW Jetta, Wolfsburg Edition (the last of the older-style Jettas). However, I do not like owning this car. I'm thankful it's paid off and the engine runs well. However, the DUMBEST things get messed up on this car, and it always ends up costing an arm and a leg. A "check engine" light often means $700 or more. This has been an all-too frequent occurrence lately. Also, three of the four electric window motors has broken...two times EACH. The speedometer/tachometer work only about 50% of the time, and that's a $500 repair. It's a very frustrating car on the one hand, and on the other hand I absolutely love driving it.

And now the latest: the glove compartment latch broke, and I can't get it open. Why I oughta... Contents of the glove box include:
  • registraion
  • insurance card
  • owner's manual
  • tire gauge
  • a box of Altoids
  • a small squirt gun (hey, I always travel prepared)
  • a pad of Mad Libs for road trips
  • and - if you can believe it - two pairs of driving gloves. One must keep at least 1 pair of gloves in one's glove compartment. I hardly ever actually use them, but nonetheless they form the defining factor of said glove compartment.
I kinda need that tire gauge right now, not to mention the fact that I (ahem) would like that box of Altoids handy. And I'm supposed to go to Chicago next weekend, so I'd like access to the registration & stuff just in case. Guess I need to make yet another trip to the auto place this week. Glad I found a spot other than the dealer that works with foreign cars.

ARGH!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cafe Commentary

One of the things I like about working in the cafe is the variety of people I see here. It keeps me feeling in touch with reality during a time where I need to spend time alone (something I don't particularly enjoy very much). I've said it before, but I just love this place.

From where I sit, I see businesspeople having power lunches, students like me studying alone, good friends meeting for a drink, and even a painter painting what appears to be the inside of the cafe itself (based on how she's looking around the room). I wonder if I appear in the painting?

OK, time to focus, or else my Cousin Dave will come after me with his hatchet.

Administrivia

With numerous components of the doctoral student experience hanging over his head, Rob didn't sleep very much Sunday night. He suddenly realized that he may have missed something with his program of study: the long series of forms required to prove he took the appropriate courses at the appropriate times. He was up half the night looking for forms and syllabi from his Master's degree, trying to find answers to a dozen or more questions that popped into his head.

Around the department, there are many different opinions on how these procedures work. Rob decided to schedule a time with the official Person Who Knows This Stuff (PWKTS, or perhaps PaW KiTS? oh, sorry), from the Graduate Studies office. She has been very helpful to him in the past. He will meet with her tomorrow afternoon, most likely.

Rob can handle working with a great amount of detail in his work. However there are times when Rob can't figure it all out on his own and needs to ask for help. He writes this in the third person, thus removing his emotion and and is attempting to remain calm and objective. He hopes he doesn't need to take yet another class to compensate for a problem he didn't know he was having in the first place.

Stay tuned as the dramatic (ha) story unfolds.

And if you're a doctoral student, stay on top of all this paperwork during your first year, regardless of the advice may you receive from others.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Date

No, not a date for defending my dissertation proposal or anything quite that productive, professionally. Wife and I had a date Friday night.

Much fun, very much needed. We went with a few friends to Large City to the North (LCN) to eat at a new seafood restaurant where the wood interior was built by the stepfather of one of my colleagues. I'm usually skeptical of getting seafood this far away from a sea, but everything was really very good. Wife knew the original restaurant in this chain from when she lived briefly on the west coast. It was good to get into a 'real' city for a change, and we hope this is the start of a weekly, or bi-weekly, date night for the two of us. Yeah, we don't really have the money for it, but I'll just count my pennies. What's the use in working hard on the degree if you risk losing touch with your own spouse?

So, a good time was had by all.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Early Morning Writing

Ah, it finally worked. I went to bed early last night (induced by a swimmy infected head) and got up before the rest of the family. I got up at 6AM, and by 6:30 I had started writing. A little over an hour later I had written three pages/907 words on my Results section for this pilot study. Yahoo! This is the type of schedule that I had planned on having this semester. Perhaps it's my morning work out?

Granted, I would never share what I wrote this morning with ANYONE! It still needs a lot of tweaking. But at least the start of the creative part is over. Now, hopefully, the rest should just flow naturally. At least for a little while, that is.

To further qualify this, my Results section is really my own interpretation of what the participants in my study said. I find this sort of writing relatively easy. When I get into the thick of my dissertation's literature review next month, that is going to be VERY slow going. So, we'll see if i can keep up the pace then. I sort of doubt it, but it's worth a try.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Progress - at last!

With the medicine kicking in, today was the first day I was able to see straight. I finally finished a first major step with analyzing the data from my pilot study, which I now realize I started last APRIL. Wow. As I've said before, it was a nice summer! Not very productive, but nice!

I've completed a preliminary analysis of the interviews I conducted, and I cut/pasted quotes and other notes into an Access database. Then I could organize the snippets by theme. Glad that's done. Now I can start writing the results section, one theme at a time.

In a previous post I said I had not been very productive this past weekend; however, some progress was better than none. My Princess Colleague seemed to like the progress I had made, even though I intended to give her a draft of this paper. Hopefully, next Tuesday will be my day to get the draft to her, and then I can hopefully turn things into my professor Friday to finally get rid of the Incomplete in her class. A long road, but I think well-worth it. After all, this is all fodder for the dissertation proposal, so I have to keep in mind that finishing this task is also helping me write the dissertation, too. Scary thought!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Two Feet on the Ground

When I was sharing my allergy woes with a friend this morning, she proceeded to tell me and Wife about a particularly rough time she's been having lately, far worse than my allergies. I tried to encourage her by saying, "Hang in there!" Her response has stuck with me all day:
Hanging in there gives me a mental picture of hanging onto a branch extended out over a cliff. I don't think I like that. I prefer to keep two feet on the ground. That way, I can keep moving forward.
Great advice. May we all keep moving forward.

Allergeez 2

MAN I have been sacked by a new allergy this fall. Fortunately, the Health Center here at LMU is fantastic. I've really clicked with one of the nurse practitioners there, and she's helped me figure out what in the world is going on.

Allergies can hit at any age, and the southern Midwest is apparently particularly bad this year with ragweed and goldenrod. It all makes sense now: Chester and I were on a walk recently and I went right past a tall frondy brush that sprayed me with yellow stuff...hi Goldenrod, how are you? At least I think that's what it was. My entire left side of my shirt turned yellow. And guess what side of my head/ear/neck gland hurts the most?

I've been on an antibiotic for about five hours, and I'm already feeling a little better. Head still swims around a bit, but better.

Sorry if this is too much information, but I'm keeping a log of my productive times and my not-so-productive ones. This was a not-so-productive weekend, unfortunately, but it's probably because it felt like my head was wrapped around a tree.

Nice.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Disturbing

I'm having one of those days where I'm about to throw myself into my work because I'm finding what's going on in the news about both the "war" and the hurricane so disturbing. It's very rare for me when work is my escape from things; usually, I need an escape from work. But there are times that working in educational research and running away into Theory World can provide an escape mode, I suppose. While higher education is indeed very connected to the rest of the world's happenings, the particular study I'm working on right now will allow me to escape...at least for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Broke the "bad" habit

I no longer type with two spaces between sentences. In fact, I was just modifying a document I wrote about a year ago, and I was actually bothered by the two spaces I had typed in between sentences at the time.

Where have I heard it takes 21 days to form a new habit? Well, this took a little longer, but at least the Graduate School will accept my dissertation now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Organization for the week/Cafe Haze

I'm at the cafe today; I've been here since about 9AM. Good meeting with Colleague today (who actually prefers I call her Pink Princess on this blog) (I'm not making this up! hahaha), and we had a good old fashioned discussion/argument about some constructs I'm working on developing for this study. I love a good argument among friends. She's plugging along on her outline for Chapter 1, while working a full time job that has her teaching two master's courses. I don't know how she holds it together.

I've eaten a healthy lunch, and now I'm getting the Cafe Haze. This is bad. I'll spend a little time web-surfing, then I'll get more coffee and find some focus.

Scholarly goals for the week:
  • Finish my data analysis for the pilot study (I have no idea how long this will take)
  • Finish a draft of the final paper to share with the Pink Princess by next Tuesday
  • Write a short paperon My Teaching Philosophy that will get rid of an incomplete grade I wasn't expecting (ah, the hoops through which we must jump)
Personal goals:
  • Exercise regularly (had a nice walk with Chester & Wife yesterday morning)
  • Lose two pounds (translation: stop eating like a garbage disposal...ew)

Presentation Proposal

Earlier this afternoon, I submitted my very first SOLO presentation proposal, based on a research study I conducted last semester. I've always wanted to do this! I've been fortunate to have given several presentations at professional conferences during the past seven years, but I've never been the leading speaker. Let's hope the session gets accepted by the reviewing committee. I hope to turn this into a publishable paper, and the first step involves presenting it at a conference and getting feedback from others in that setting. The conference is in March, and I'll attend regardless of whether this session is accepted, but boy would it be cool to be able to present on my own research study.

I must admit, I'm feeling rather "scholarly" today. Pardon me while I go straighten my mortar board.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Permission Granted!

The reason behind the post immediately under this one came from a very good meeting with my dissertation chair (may good health and happiness follow her: Lemming paraphrase) this morning. She gave me the go-ahead to start writing. Yay! on the one-hand; SCARY on the other. It seems that she has more confidence in the research I've done thus far than I do. I suppose this is a good thing. Time to buckle down and actually dump some of the thoughts I have on my topic into something coherent and readable.

One of the things that continues to amaze me about this doctoral process is the realization that experts, themselves, are still learning. Hearing one's advisor discuss areas of comfort, and discomfort, in the writing process humanizes the whole thing.

I suspect I'll be more prolific with blog posts in the upcoming months as I reflect on this process more & more. Should be an interesting ride.

"You just need to write, Rob!"

A trusted colleague said this to me the night before a major paper was due for my "Higher Education in the United States" course during my second year. We were together in our respective offices on campus (hers is across the hall from mine) and we were keeping each other going through the writing process at the last minute. Of course. I often get extensive outlines and notes on my sources together, etc., but the writing process itself for some reason makes me nervous. So I find ways to stall, procrastinate, etc., until I find myself in a situation where if I don't do the writing, then I simply will run out of time. Invariably, that's what has worked during this degree. Lack of time and urgency of need make me get the work done.

What's funny is that I've consistently received good feedback on my writing throughout my academic career. And my lack of starting early makes me write very quickly. Why do I fear starting the writing process, then? I do enjoy it a great deal, but I think it's almost a fear of commitment: committing the written word to paper. This is silly, I know; word processing changed the permanence of writing. I can just delete, move around, share with others to gain feedback, etc. Why not just write on a regular basis and get over this fear?

I think having this blog has helped me with this process. This is a much more public presentation of my thoughts in written form than most papers will ever be. I need to focus and JUST WRITE!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In the LIBRARY??

Brace yourself. I'm attempting to work in the library. No coffee or "atmosphere" here. Just me, my wireless laptop, and the cube in which I sit. I'm hoping to find focus & structure in here. So far it's looking pretty empty, but I'll let you know if I run across the little buggers later on.

I have a meeting with my advisor tomorrow morning. I realize more than ever that I am only as productive as my deadlines are near. I'm looking forward to the advice and the proverbial kick in the tuchas.

If I can get my thoughts down on paper between now and tomorrow AM, it'll be a miracle. Has anyone seen Miracle Max lately? I need to have a chat with him.

Health

For anyone reading this who is starting a doctorate or is already in one, I provide one bit of advice: TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. You're (most likely) far too smart to do otherwise. I share this after an annual physical (annual? OK, it's been 5 years) where I learned I have elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It's nothing out of this world, but geez I'm only 34. And since my father dropped dead from a heart attack less than two years ago, I should probably change my ways.

So don't be an idiot like I've been; stop sitting around, OK?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Natural Disasters

Just about three years ago, the family and I planned a road trip to visit my in-laws five hours away from here. About an hour before we were to leave, a tornado came through the town north of us and went right up along the only major road out of our county. It caused major damage to many homes and businesses, and if memory serves one or two people died in the storm. We did not know the effects of the storm until we attempted to leave town. Had we truly understood the force of such things like tornadoes, I don't think we WOULD have attempted to leave town.

Houses we knew on the drive out of town were entirely gone. There was an field filled with what I could only describe as rubble; I honestly don't remember what had been there. Entire stands of trees were mangled, and you could literally trace the path of the tornado just by looking out into the fields. We drove through this part of the state about one hour after it had been practically ripped in half; it was very scary. It took us three hours to drive to the outskirts of our state's capital from here when it normally takes about 50 minutes. And what we saw along the way was horrible.

This week I keep hearing people say, "I can't imagine what being in Louisiana and Mississippi is like right now." Now, clearly what I saw here three years ago is only a minor, tiny, fraction of the devastation we're seeing on TV reports from the south. But the weird thing is that I feel I CAN imagine what it must be like. I hate it; it's almost like an old wound is coming back, and the tornado here really didn't even directly impact my life. It affected my mind, I suppose, because the images still stick with me. Some of the tornado damage is still visible today. I can imagine what it would be like to be in New Orleans or Mississippi right now. What I cannot imagine is actually being a true victim of either of these natural disasters. As much as I make fun of how poorly built our house is, at least we only sustained a minor leak in our kitchen ceiling as a result of yesterday's rain. The roofer was able to fix it today, less than 24 hours later. How different from New Orleans can THAT be?

Certainly puts any dissertation stress into a different perspective, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Il pleut

It rains. The forecast for the Small College Town area today actually says "tons of rain." I've never seen it quite written that way.

It's nice to have the cafe practically to myself this morning, partially due to the rain, I'd bet. And with the rain has come a great deal of ideas for the dissertation, in terms of the population I may work with and the reasons why they are important to study. I think it's time to feed all this rain into a directed gutter and get some of it written down.

Is that ironic that I'm comparing my notion of focus and commitment to a gutter? Doesn't a gutter connote waste water and something one discards? Nice analogy. I need to get back to reading now.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Allergeez

I've not posted in over a week. I'm not one to complain, but oy I've never had such allergies in the late summer. Ever. I'll spare you the deails, but suffice it to say my head has been swimming in a fog for almost a week. I can't type any exclamation points in this post because that would indicate excitement or a loud voice. No such thing here: quiet voices, dim lights, calm attitude, and plenty of medicine to keep the head at bay. Ick.

I suppose I could understand this happening during my first year living in a different state, but this is my fourth August in this town, so I'm a bit confused here. And nothing, I tell you nothing, can beat the pine pollen in a Southeastern spring. That SUCKS when the windshield turns bright yellow-green from the stuff. This is nothing compared to that...

...so why is my head feeling like a helium balloon??

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Musing on Reading

I have started reading dissertations of those who have completed the doctoral program here at Large Midwest University. This is a helpful exercise for me in that it's helping me to focus and narrow. The notion of getting more narrow is not one I come to very quickly (this last sentence probably made my colleagues who may read this laugh out loud!). However, reading these dissertations have given me some tidbits that provide perspective:
  1. One will most likely not change the world with one's dissertation!
  2. A dissertation that may appear to have a simple research design is not remotely a simple piece of research. One must truly enjoy one's topic in order to spend the amount of time completing a detailed analysis of literature and data.
  3. The dissertation is a completed work of research which has been read and critiqued by numerous others. There is no way that my proposal is going to be nearly as polished, nor should it be.
  4. Read read read literature of interest, find a gap where data don't quite match up or where more research needs to be constructed, and create a study exploring that gap.
It's interesting to find patterns in these things. I'm reading articles and these studies much more quickly than I read articles for my coursework. I look for the patterns in the different sections. For example:
  • Where's the gap noted in the review of literature?
  • What type of study is it, and how was the sample selected?
  • What are the implications of this study?
  • How did the researcher get from the initial formation of research questions to the end results of the study?
Frankly, there are sections of articles I merely skim, especially if I'm reading just to learn more about the construction of the study or about the manner in which a particular type of research is written. With other articles, especially the primary sources, I take my time absorbing the work, understanding the concepts, and reflecting on what I read in order to make connections to other things. It's truly a fascinating process that comes just from reading reading reading.

If you were to ask me HOW I am conducting my study or WHAT the implications are, I couldn't quite tell you just yet. I'm still reading, still learning where the literary gaps are. I finally see an initial gap (praise Moses!), but I need to read some more to see if the gap truly exists or if I'm just missing something. It's an interesting spot in the process for me. It's like I'm on the right road and I know what the destination is, yet I can't quite make out the roads I need to take to get there.

Hopefully the map will soon appear, or at least I'll acquire some cartographic skills pretty darn quick.

Hyundai Sonata dethrones Camry and Accord - Autoblog - www.autoblog.com _


Speaking of cars:

When the residents of Chesterley traveled East over the Independence Day Holiday, we rented car mentioned in the article (click this post's title to read). Now, we didn't request a Hyundai; rather it just was the car they gave us. We were a little hesitant at first: it was a two-hour drive to my grandmother's place. "A Hyundai?" I said. "Are we gonna make it?" I was only half-joking.

I've gotta tell ya, we were impressed. The car was fantastic! Easy to drive, fantastic pick-up, V6 engine, and even a sunroof. And this was an inexpensive rental! Not that I'm in the market to buy a car for at least the next year or so, but I just may look at this one. I'll have to see how it holds up over time, but if the repair record is good, then I may change my opinion of Hyundais.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What's your summer ride?

Your Summer Ride is a Beetle Convertible

Fun, funky, and a little bit euro.
You love your summers to be full of style and sun!

What makes me laugh about this is that I really do drive a VW, though not a Beetle. I've had to sink so much money into my almost-seven-year-old Jetta to keep it running that one would actually think I EARN money as a graduate student! Ha. Anyhow, I thought this was a fun little quiz as we near the summer's end.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Wheels on the Bus...

Son is going to start his second year of preschool a week from this Wednesday. In the past couple of days, we've had some representations of developmental progress. First, he started wearing his little backpack today, which is something he wouldn't tolerate one bit last year.

Second, over the weekend we converted his crib from a "crib" to a toddler bed by installing the toddler rail. He can get in and out of bed on his own. The first night (Sunday) and tonight (so far) were just fine. He went right to sleep. Last night was hilarious: we put him to bed, and a few minutes later we saw him standing in the second-floor hallway, blinking, and looking at me as if to say, "How the hell did I get out here?" We gently took him back to his room, and he eventually fell asleep. All was well. Hearing the pitter-patter of little feet in the morning will take some adjustment, but it's nice to see Son exhibiting behavior that is more fitting of a four-year-old, for a change!

He will travel to school on the bus this year. A little bus, with harnesses and the whole nine yards. This will allow him yet another socialization experience, and it will prevent Wife (and sometimes me) from having to take him to and from school 180 times!!! Some of the other parents say their kids' bus-ride is the highlight of their day, so we hope some of that energy will travel over our way as well.

One thing is for sure: glad I'm not the one starting classes in the fall! Writing a book is plenty enough for this 22nd-grader.

Water

And now, it's time for a post about water.

We had to purchase a new refrigerator about a month ago. How the hell we could afford this on my stunningly small graduate assistantship stipend, I'll never know. Thankfully, Sears had this sale of not paying anything for a year, so perhaps between now and then we'll win the lottery. Or at least a job. So we figured what the f-ck, let's get an icemaker. We can't afford the fridge anyway, so let's spend a little more and get something we'd like.

This is the first time in my entire life when I have an ice maker in my own home. Pretty darn exciting. Even more exciting is the water dispenser that's inside the refrigerator door (if it were on the outside, then Son would sit there constantly and dispense water all over the floor. This would be bad).

I drink more water now. Lots of it. Can't get enough. And there's always plenty of ice. Gotta like ice. Yay water!

I think I lost my brain halfway between the water dispenser and this stack of articles I'm trying to read...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Time well spent

As it turns out, my time back at the Cafe on Tuesday served me well. Had a great meeting with Colleague, and that evening I found a whole stack of articles that are putting me in what I think is a really interesting direction with this Beast. This is good.

Since then, I've sort of embraced the fact that I've had a slow summer, and that's OK. No, I didn't accomplish as much as I thought I would on my schedule, but I'm allowing myself to be happy that I've had a "good," relaxing summer. Perhaps acknowledging the fact that I've had a break will help me get my @ss in gear later on? Let's hope so. I started losing sleep the other night over all the things on my list, so perhaps I'm coming out of my unconscious need to relax. Am probably overpsychoanalyzing all of this. Or perhaps I'm justifying being a slacker?

I must say I've been more affected by Peter Jennings's death than I thought I would be. I truly don't know where I'll get TV news that I trust ever again. Part of the cycle of life, I suppose, but it's still bothering me a bit. I hope someone else is out there who won't dumb down or sensationalize the news, but frankly I doubt that person exists.

Alright, off to work and then onward through yon articles.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back at the Cafe

Well, at least it's been a nice summer. I've done plenty of "summer" things like going to the beach, going to a baseball game, spending a day at a water park, playing in the sprinkler with Son, etc. I've not had a "fun" summer like this in a long time.

Dissertation? What dissertation?

The fam and I had a nice long-weekend trip to Wife's parents' home in Neighboring State to the North. Son enjoyed himself thoroughly, and his grandparents were glad to have us all crowding up their house.

Dissertation? Huh?

Other colleauges went through the qualifying exam process these past two weekends. I wish them all well, and I'm glad it wasn't me!

Oh yeah, and then there's this dissertation thing.

You know, it's been a while since I've cleaned out the gutters. Yeah, and there's always the mailbox post that needs to be painted. And there's also the...

Oh yeah, the dissertation.

Like I've said, it's been a nice summer. Perhaps I'll start finding motivation to turn into my fall work mood. So far, I'm not there. Perhaps today's cafe work-day will change that? Don't hold your breath. The funny thing is that some of the literature I brought with me today is on MOTIVATION!!!

Sigh.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Spaces between Sentences: One or Two?

I have an old (old? Hey, I'm not old!) habit of typing two spaces between each sentence. I was taught this when I first learned how to type. I started using a word processor in the 1980s during high school, as my father had an office at our home. Even on the word processor, I typed the two spaces between sentences, like the good rule follower I am.

In Microsoft Word, I have my spelling/grammar check set on making sure I have those two spaces between sentences in order to maintain consistency in my writing. The fact that there is an option to watch for these two spaces says to me that this is an accepted writing convention.

In the School of Education at Large Midwestern University (LMU), we use the writing style as determined by the American Psychological Association (APA). Apparently they instruct that one is to put only one space between sentences. I'm trying to do that in this paragraph, and it's driving me nuts. Everything runs together, and one cannot tell the difference between a sentence and an abbreviation. Somebody stop me!

Ah, back to two spaces again. Two colleagues and I have friendly arguments on this point. One believes that Word automatically enters in an extra space between sentences, so there is no need. Not true, says I. The other tells me the LMU won't accept my dissertation with two spaces between sentences; he thinks I should break my "bad habit." Bad habit? Excrement, says I! I've come this far, successfully! APA is not the only style LMU uses for dissertations; surely there are others that require the two spaces. I know of some LMU graduates who submitted dissertations with two spaces between sentences, and they now successfully wear "Ph.D." after their last names.

Any thoughts on this silly little issue, O Fellow Bloggers who employ proper grammar and punctuation?