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?


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


From the 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!