Sunday, January 29, 2006

Loss!

I'm a loser! One more pound GONE this week. Honestly, it wasn't really that hard, and I didn't change the number of times I ate: I just changed the type of food I took in.

Friday, January 27, 2006

To work or not to work, that is the question.

I'm not talking about working on my dissertation! Of course I'm gonna do that...really!

I'm talking about working full-time, or not. I'm applying for a couple of full-time jobs right now. I've decided that I'm too old to continue to take out student loans. Besides, after this semester all of my courses and hours of "doctoral thesis," whatever that actually is, will be paid off as a result of having worked in assistantships for four years. So, I figure what's the rush? Why not take a job that can hopefully be in an area I'd like to work anyhow, stop going further into debt, and just plug away at the dissertation slowly. The thing I worry about, of course, is finding the motivation to finish.

However, I think I'm listening too much to others when I worry about this. Others say, "if you take a full-time job, then you'll lose the motivation to do the dissertation." I don't think I quite agree. I mean, it's not like I wasn't employed full-time prior to finding the motivation to come here. I chose to leave my job, and the salary wasn't so bad, as far as jobs in student affairs go. I was ready for a change, and most important, I was ready to conduct my own research. So why would I lose the motivation?

On the contrary, I think I'd stand to gain more motivation. Right now I worry, all the time (I've already used that word three times in this post!). Do we have enough money to make it through the next semester? Man, we really need a new oven. Will this doc student experience really move my career to a better place? Will Moose ever communicate and grow? If money weren't as much of an issue, it would be one less stressor. The position would be some stability in my life. Perhaps that stability would allow me the serenity to actually focus on finishing up, knowing that I would no longer have any barriers in my way for moving up in my field...at least, no barriers over which I have any control.

I will miss doing what I'm doing now: working for a half day, and then coming to the cafe, or wherever, alone to get my work done. But there's always vacation time. If I can really plow through the proposal this spring, then I do think I'd be able to work on collecting the data during the next school year and then spend some good chunks of time in the summer of 2007 writing up the results. Perhaps I'm dreaming with this schedule, but I'd rather risk extending the time on the dissertation even further than risk going into yet more debt and more worry.

We'll see what happens with these coupla job applications.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Four Things Meme

Tagged by Lemming, a fellow doctoral candidate (though in a different field, and not necessarily at LMU).

4 jobs you've had in your life: gate guard at the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony, stage manager for an opera company, resident advisor at my undergraduate institution, director of first-year student services at a university

4 movies you could watch over & over: Dead Poets Society, Apollo 13, Back to the Future, O Brother Where Art Thou?

4 television shows you love: Desperate Housewives, Friends, Law & Order, many of the home improvement shows on TLC

4 places you have lived: Glencoe, IL; Rochester, NY; Columbus, OH, Richmond, VA

4 places you have been on vacation: Leelanau County, MI; Galena, IL; Disney World; Outer Banks, NC

4 Web sites you visit daily: my.yahoo.com, my blog roll, weightwatchers.com, chronicle.com

4 places you'd rather be right now: Leelanau County, MI; Disney World; in my bed; on a beach

4 bloggers you are tagging: Cousin Dave, Padg, and that's about it for now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Moose on a Horse!

IMG_0265
IMG_0265,
originally uploaded by chesterley.
I've posted a few pictures of Thomas's first horseback riding trip last week. Once he got accustomed to sitting on a living & breathing beast, he ended up having a great time.

I was supposed to comment Monday night

...but Moose got sick again. Another stomach virus. It was totally out of the blue. Boy was that fun. The poor kid. He's feeling a little better now, but thankfully he realizes he can just stay in bed all he wants.

Monday afternoon I got a little more done on some edits. Last night was the night I teach with DC each week, and we usually get dinner together beforehand. I'm thankful for the planned time with her each week on a few different levels. First, I just enjoy hanging out with her - she has a great sense of humor and we have similar views on the higher education field. Second, I enjoy teaching with her and I'm learning a great deal. Finally, our regular meetings keeps me in constant communication about my dissertation progress, or lack thereof. Last night I told her more about the work Wife and I have put into finding schooling options for Moose; she's aware that the dissertation has taken a temporary place on the back burner, and she assured me my priorities are in line. So, even though the ship is getting stalled in the port, at least the navigator of the ship is aware of what's going on.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blue Weekend

Kind of a blue weekend that just passed. Glad it's over. I suppose one runs into these road blocks, and for me road blocks occur when I feel like my future is out of my control. Of course the future's out of my control: it hasn't happened yet! Call me a control freak or whatever else you like: it's part of me, and I ain't changing it.

I am sick of the poverty and am sick of being a student. Still, the best way to get beyond the poverty and student-dom is to get cranking on this dissertation puppy. Arf. So, here I am back at the cafe and ready to go. I ran into two other colleagues, and we're going to make the Monday afternoon time at the cafe a regular thing. I have two hours today, so I'm determined to feel like I've gotten SOMETHING done. I plan to post again this evening with an update, and I will probably start doing regular weekly reports like I did last Friday.

One bit of good news: I did lose a pound last week! Down to 215.5 now. Some minorly- (minorly?) bad news (very minor in the scheme of life): my old Palm m500 finally bit the dust. I was able to replace it with one for under $100 (the Palm Z22), which was nice, and it's in color! However, this new one is too "new" to support the Palm-based WeightWatchers software, so I can no longer carry around the points calculators, food lists, and food database with me. It was kinda cool to be able to log in food choices and such and then upload it all to the Web interface. Oh well: at least I know where I'm supposed to be at any given time instead of having a frozen Palm. Hopefully WW will upgrade its software soon.

Enough of this geekiness and onto some editing!

Friday, January 20, 2006

The week in review

It's not been a great week on the dissertation front. Kinda shitty, actually. I think I was thrown off by the timing of the MLK holiday, just after getting a feel for the routine of the semester. I'm in a rut and I hate it. People who started a year later than I did are now ahead of me. I shouldn't compare, but I do. Moving onward...

We've had a good week for Moose, though, which is good. We met with the preschool coordinator on Wednesday because we're working on upping her therapies at home and at school. Also, we're thinking we're going to change schools next fall and send him to one that has a great deal more structure. We continue to be amazed that we have a CHOICE of PRESCHOOLS for kids with developmental problems, and these are all public schools!!! In addition, we started another therapy for Moose involving horses. Yes, Moose rode a horse yesterday! Pictures forthcoming.

The plan: I have times/dates scheduled with Pink, and I think that will help me with some "live" accountability for dissertation stuff. Also, the next couple of weeks are just going to be normal, schedule-wise. In addition, we're getting through a busy season at Assistantship, so next week should be more calm.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Public Disclosure

OK friends and fellow bloggers, this is one of these things that if I don't say it out loud, then it isn't "real." So, here goes:

I'm going back on WeightWatchers. Today.

Summary: At the end of 2001, I went on WeightWatchers (WW) for the first time, and I lost 25 pounds in 3 months. I kept it off for nearly a year, sometimes lingering at the 30-pound mark. Now I'm back up to 216.5.

Details (and if you hate details, then skip down to the "Plan" section): Son was born in July of 2001 and I was never heavier. Sympathy weight, perhaps, but I had been carrying around too much weight for about 7 years at that point (bad habits learned while earning the Master's degree). September 11 happened, and I had this infant son to raise into this strange world. I took a different perspective on my life that month and wondered why I was WAITING to get in shape. So, I joined the online version of WeightWatchers, which worked well for me since I was either at my desk or attending/running a gazilion meetings all day long. Anything I'd eat was logged into the Web site when I came back to my desk. I quickly learned I was eating for at least one-and-a-half of me, and I had probably done so for several years.

On September 18, 2001, I was 30 years old and I weighed 227 pounds, which at a height of 5'9" is waay too much. In fact, I'd have to be a 6'7" 45-year-old in order for 221 to be healthy, let alone 227!!! My body mass index (BMI) was 34, which is considered "obese." By December 9, 2001 I was at 202 pounds with a BMI of 29, or just "overweight," which I thought was pretty darn exciting. By the beginning of February I had lost five more pounds to be at 197. That was the first time in YEARS that I was below 200 pounds. I could literally pull off my size 40 waist jeans with the belt buckled. I didn't feel like I had asthma anymore. When walking across campus, my students and colleagues didn't recognize me. My knees didn't hurt when I walked Chester. I could fit into the Jetta easily. Life was definitely different and much healthier.

Oh, and I must say that I really wasn't exercising all that much. My weight loss happened primarily because I put an end to unloading a truck into my stomach each day.

That spring semester-into-summer was my last time running new student orientation, and I was back at 202 (BMI=30) during most of that period. For working 10+ hours per day for a couple of months, I didn't think a five-pound gain was so bad. Most important: it stayed right around there the next few months, and I was no longer being very religious about WW at that point. I had learned the tools to maintain my weight, which I think is the lesson in all of this.

And then we moved to SCT. I gained gradually during the first year. I was learning a new lifestyle and working zany hours where I'd eat whatever was necessary to help me stay up longer hours for reading, paper-writing, managing stress, etc. By the end of the first year here, I was back up to 217 (BMI=32, back in the obese range). I was still 10 pounds under my highest weight, thankfully, though it has spiked up here & there during particularly stressful times. I've pretty much kept it right around the 215 range since then.

Plan: Yesterday I was 216.5 pounds (BMI=32), and I'm determined to start the big decrease from here on out. I hope that putting a structure to my eating habits will also foster a structured life for dissertation-writing. WW says the "ideal" weight for someone my height is between 135-162 pounds. Can you IMAGINE?? My first goal is to get to the mid 180s for now, and we'll go from there. It's healthy to lose about 2 pounds per week.

Dang this post is long. Thanks for reading (if you're still here with me)! The blog-based accountability will be good for me.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What kind of coffee are you?

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic
At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung
You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping
Your caffeine addiction level: high

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Progression

There must have been something in the air today that was conducive to productivity in doctoral students. I'm sticking to my new schedule this week (OK, forgive me for being 45 minutes late for studying this morning), and this morning I CRANKED on edits for this publication I'm trying to finish. The friend with whom I was studying also had a productive morning: I think we sorta fed each other good energy, if you will.

And then I just read that my friend Lemming had a productive day too...probably a good breakthrough on her dissertation. Very exciting and inspiring stuff!

Here's to hoping this energy, or air, or whatever it is can carry through the rest of the week.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Je suis au cafe

I do like this cafe, but today it's a little bit weird. For one thing, the music's a bit too loud for my taste, but I can get past that.

The other is that the couple at the table next to me really needs to go find a room. Do you catch my drift? I mean, ew. I really didn't come here to feel like I'm in the way of someone else. I was here first, and they're sitting FAR too close to me to do what they're doing.

But that aside, it's good to be starting a new semester, and perhaps a new routine. I hate to say new "routine" when it's still rather new. How could it be routine yet?

OK, I really need to get some coffee and stop thinking so much about nothing. I should be writing a new Seinfeld episode.

"You, at the next table...Get off of her!" There, I feel better now. I think I'm going to switch to a booth...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Energy from Balmy Weather

I think the weather befits my mood today. I'm finding myself excited for this next semester because I'm going to be extremely busy. The weather today is a balmy, windy 62 degrees here in SCT, and it feels like spring even though it's early January. In spite of the date, I always get energized by the spring-like weather, especially when it's not too warm. It's like everything outside is about to start growing again, and my energy level usually increases in anticipation for an exciting time in nature.

I know, I know...it's probably going to snow again before long, and I don't mind that. But I'm savoring this nice weather nonetheless.

This sort of weather reminds me of a time during my master's degree that I felt like I had finally arrived as a graduate student, and perhaps as an "adult." It was the winter-into-spring before I finished up in 1996, and no longer was I making a transition from undergraduate work to graduate school. I was finally feeling like I was a "good" student. I knew who my friends were, and also those from whom I should maintain a distance. I lived alone and truly enjoyed the experience. I was very productive that spring, on many levels: it was the spring in which I proposed to Wife, found my first full-time job, and successfully finished the master's degree. I was confident that I was entering a profession to which I was well-suited and well-prepared. That spring was a very exciting time in my life.

So, I'm getting the same sort of feelings of excitement today, on the Sunday before the new semester begins. To be honest, in past years I've dreaded this Sunday, and now I'm just ready. In the first paragraph I mentioned I was excited because I am going to be very busy. I think I did not take advantage of the unplanned time as well as I could have, so this upcoming term is an opportunity to fix that and move onward. I will take a class for fun (multivariate statistics in educational research - FUN??), and I will help my dissertation chair to teach the capstone course for my department's master's program. My assistantship will continue as planned, and I am feeling good about the schedule/battle I've won with when I'm going to work and when I'm going to study.

Mentally, I'm in a good place at the beginning of what should, hopefully, prove to be a productive semester. Perhaps I've arrived in a new stage of my life? Well, I don't know if it's that deep. I prefer to just blame it on the weather!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Turning it Upside Down

I just finished fighting a battle with my schedule for the upcoming spring semester, and I think I won. I'm using the upside-down trick.

Mornings tend to be my best time of day, mentally-speaking, so last semester I scheduled my work hours in the afternoons with the thought of using peak brain power for studying in the morning. The problem with this was the lack of externally-imposed structure on this lifestyle. Mornings would quickly become scheduled with @#$% car repairs or doctors appointments (achoo). But I never touched the assistantship hours. I could borrow time from myself to do these errands, as long as I did the assistantship hours. As a result, everything at work is just fine, but once again I'm paying myself last, if you will. Silly, because my goal here is to finish this degree. In addition, since there was no external push to be sitting in front of my computer at 8:00 AM each day, or whenever I'd set aside the study time, so I was perhaps being more relaxed about my study attitude than I could have been.

To win this battle, I will flip things upside-down this next semester. I'm going to work smaller chunks at my job over more days per week and limit them primarily to the mornings. Then, the afternoons are for my studies, barring the one class I'm taking and the other I'm helping to teach in the evenings. If the car breaks down or the nose gets plugged up again, then the appointments to fix said things will happen in the mornings and I will reschedule the assistantship hours to other times. That's easy to do, and it helps me keep priorities in order.

I'm a bit nervous about making myself get anywhere early in the morning: I've fallen out of the habit while in school. It'll take some time to adjust my sleep schedule, but this will give me more daylight hours to be productive. Perhaps it will prepare me to go back to work full-time. Next week will be an interesting one.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A New Virus Scare

A friendly public service announcement. Oh, I'm not being sarcastic or anything! This seems to be authentic.

Check out this link from the Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus blog for a warning about a new virus scare.

Also, my office just sent out a note about this saying we should "unregister" the Microsoft picture & fax viewer. I can send you the instructions on how to do this, if interested.

Don't people have anything better to do than to create this stuff?