Monday, July 31, 2006

8 more hours and that's it

OK, I can't really believe that tomorrow is the day we flip all of the calendars over to August. August?? Buh bye summer.

Had a good meeting with DC last week. It lasted about two hours, with the first 30 minutes or so just catching up from our summer adventures and such. And then the rest was all business, which was good. I like having an advisor who doesn't make me prove myself to her. Actually, I may have proved myself to her when I took a class from her in 2005, not sure. Anyhow, now it's very much a mentoring relationship more so than one where I have to prove my worth, and I appreciate this. We have confidence in each other, and she expects I'm going to be able to keep up. Big expectations, but if it wasn't for those, I probably would lose interest, honestly!

So, we agreed I need to spend no more than 8 hours working on finishing up the study from last year. It will help with the diss and I (we?) may even get a publication out of it. That would be nice. This means that by the end of the week, it's all about the dissertation and no more extraneous study hanging over my head. I hope.

Was a good weekend just gone by: Moose & Wife were away visitng relatives and I got a much-needed "vacation." I miss them, but I admit once in a while it's good to have the place to myself. I look forward to their homecoming tomorrow, though. Over the weekend,I did some reading for The Study (only a couple of the 8 appointed hours), and I also got a few things done around the house ("weed-b-goned" the front lawn, etc.). Had dinner & drinks with friends on Saturday night. Sang a big choral work in church on Sunday to celebrate the departure of our choir director. I do enjoy singing in the choir again.

Lots of my colleagues here at LMU are in qualifying exams this week and next. Good luck guys! Just pull them on through the chute and get 'em done.

Off to complete Hour #3...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Too many strands...

I'm editing my first chapter now. It's not very good, but that matters not since no one but I is reading it at the moment. This first draft is decent, I guess. Good general ideas, but the concepts don't hold together really well. I'm essentially critiquing it as if I weren't the author, asking myself questions in the margins like, "What does this mean?" or "Think about moving this paragraph earlier." Too many loose strands of concepts right now, and not enough of them are tying together just yet.

Bottom line: I still feel like I have a ton of reading to do before I really master these concepts. And that sorta scares me, because I'm concerned about keeping all of this literature organized. I'm also concerned about completing the proposal anytime soon.

The good thing is that I'm meeting with DC later this week. I'm not 100% certain if I'm going to be able to communicate these dissertation ideas very clearly to her, and that's a bit scary. I don't want to look like a complete idiot.

This is going to sound weird, but part of me thinks I should take this dissertation process less seriously. I find I get fearful when I need to edit things I've written, and that's ridiculous. I'm allowing the fear (the origin of which is unknown to me) keep me from focusing, so I find ways to procrastinate. Not very productive...I'm essentially allowing myself to not focus very much on something I find important. It's backward: I'm spending time on things that are NOT important when I should be working on the dissertation.

It's time to change and tie together these loose strands. I declare that I will not "care" about this dissertation! It's no longer important to me! From here on out, my form of procrastination will be to work on my dissertation and forego the things that are really important.

Would that attitude actually induce productive procrastination?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I don't feel like it today

I'm feeling a push to get some work done today on the dissertation, but it's more of an external push than an internal one. External forces on me are telling me to get cracking on this, and yet I really don't give a rat's ass about it today.

Part of me feels like I have this great idea for the dissertation, one I've been working on quite a while. But the "work" hasn't been active work, it's been in my head. And my head as been buried in books, though a little half-heartedly I'll admit. My head as also been buried in recent family shit too (extended family, not Moose & Wife) , and that's taken a higher priority. And I suppose my priorities are in line. But when is the dissertation going to take on a higher priority? Not sure about that one. I mean, one may think it's good I'm not letting it take over my family life. But then again, I'm not getting it done, either, so what good is that?

At this point, I know I'm being too abstract with my conceptualization of the dissertation idea. I just need to narrow, focus, and get the study done. While I have a chapter 1 draft, it sucks so much that I won't let anyone else read it. Well, that's not very productive, is it?! So the goal now is to at least get some feedback on the fucker, even if it rips my heart and brain to shreds in the process. Feedback should help with the forward motion of the process. It's been a while since I've had any feedback, but then again I haven't produced much substance in order to obtain feedback.

Onward, then. I'm torn: do I indeed complete chapter 1 before I feel like I've done enough reading, or do I read some more too so I know what the hell I'm talking about? I think I'm going to keep reading and get a shitty draft of chapter 2 done. Then I can go back and tweak chapter 1. We shall see. Am not feeling very optimistic about all this today.

Off to the library...

Perhaps I should quit while I'm ahead?

Saw this one on Lemming's blog.

Maybe I shouldn't be in educational research after all...

I am nerdier than 17% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Monday, July 17, 2006

What's your personality type?

Whever I take any version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I try to vary my answers a bit depending upon my mood or recent experiences. Never seems to have an effect on the outcome. This is me, no doubt about it.

You Are An ENFJ
The Giver
You strive to maintain harmony in relationships, and usually succeed.Articulate and enthusiastic, you are good at making personal connections.Sometimes you idealize relationships too much - and end up being let down.You find the most energy and comfort in social situations ... where you shine.
You would make a good writer, human resources director, or psychologist.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Document Analysis

Four of my closest relatives and I had a difficult, yet important, experience together last weekend. We cleaned out the family home of our GoGA (Grandmother of Great Age), who you may recall died last March at age 98. Just a year ago Wife, Moose, and I visited her home for a week-long visit and had a good time. Dealing with her end has been a long and drawn-out process, mostly due to the physical distance among my cousins and between our homes and hers.

You may have heard the cliché, “she kept everything.” Well, this is no cliché with our grandmother: she truly kept everything. Not only did we four grandchildren uncover just about every letter we had ever written to her during our lives, but we found everything from our great-grandmother’s Shabbat notebook from 1897 to auto registrations from the 1940s and plans for parties my grandparents held in the 1960s. I learned many things through this experience. For example, the format of tax returns have not changed very much since 1937. And, did you know that if you wanted timely delivery on a letter, one needed to indicate “via air mail” on an envelope traveling from New York to Chicago as recent as the late 1960s?

Document analysis is a qualitative data-collection technique that researchers use when wanting to learn more about a certain entity. I’ve used this data collection form in the past when assessing the effectiveness of a program or when learning more about the history of a college. I realized early on that we were performing a large document analysis on the long life of my grandmother. This was a gift, in some ways, though I admit I wasn’t really very pleased with my grandmother for essentially forcing us to take a week off and go through her files, some of which were ridden with long-gone mouse nests and years of mold (Cape Cod is rather humid, so mold accumulation is a regular experience) (ew). The gift part of this experience comes into play when considering that we essentially were able to relive parts of her life through the last century, and there were many of these moments we did not realize existed.

I cannot and will not outline all of her life experiences here in this blog. Suffice it to say, however, that any major life event I was aware of in her life were documented somewhere in her house. For example, whenever she started a story about a place where she lived, she would give us the street address; we found unused personalized stationery from every residence where she had ever lived. She would describe the cars she drove across the country to go to her summer home; we found the bill of sale for when she purchased these cars. Through these documents we saw her life at its height when she was an activist for human rights in Chicago (the mayor would ask her to lunch on a regular basis to discuss these issues). We watched her life age when her handwriting became illegible and her filing system moved from organized files toward a series of piled papers along her desk and bedroom floor.

Soon after her death, I wrote that I thought it was odd I was missing, of all things, her house. Now I think I understand this a bit better. Her house was a symbol of family gatherings, both good and difficult. We’ll never be able to replace this symbol once we sell the place. Five generations of my family have enjoyed this house, all people related to GoGA in some way. Her mother would join her during summers in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. My grandparents of course spent countless months enjoying the home and the beaches across the road. My parents, and aunt & uncle, would visit with my cousins and/or me and my sister in tow. Other extended family members would see us all gathered there both in the summer and winter months for informal family reunions. And more recently I, my sister, and one of my cousins would bring our own children to visit their great-grandmother. Selling a home that’s been in the family for about 50 years is a grueling process. Going through the files and other personal items is strange and tiring. But the emotional aspect of losing family history in a physical place is unfathomable for me at times. It’s amazing to think my grandmother lived in this house for only half of her life…50 years seems like a long time to live in one place. Perhaps I will get used to the fact that another family will stake claim to the sand dune we referred to as “Gram’s house” for so many years.

I have mixed feelings, though about the sale of her house. I admit there’s a large part of me that’s glad to see the place go, as I had some very difficult times there that I’d rather not remember. But another part of me will always wonder how many more years I and my relatives would have carried on the tradition of these family gatherings. Sort of seems like a waste to sell the place after all these years.

Someday I may take some of the documents I saved and write a book about my grandmother’s life. It may make for an interesting story.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Well, here's day 1 of trying the new schedule. I was up at 5:30, out the door just before 7, and here I am at my desk on campus, ready to work after a stop at the post office and preliminary work e-mail check. Wait. What am I doing again? Oh yeah, this dissertation proposal...that's it!

Long hiatus in posting here, I know, mostly because I've been traveling just about every weekend this summer. Finally, I think I'm all done with that. When I have more time I'm going to post more about an interesting family experience from last weekend.

Time to crack the books. But I need some coffee first. zzzzzzzzz

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fireworks are Everywhere

Ever since my state passed a new law which actually PERMITS morons to blast off fireworks till 11:00 PM each night, including the ones that go off the ground, into the air, and onto my trees and roof, people in my neighborhood are louder than ever. Normally, it's a quiet place that few SCTers have ever seen (it's built behind several old farms that are no longer functioning as such, but one cannot see this from the main road...just looks like a series of old farms with a couple of little roads in between). But around this time of year, the fireworks "season" begins. Not just around Independence Day, but the sounds keep going till September. I don't think I'm exaggerating very much.

Tonight I think I'm hearing popping sounds on three sides of my house. Last year I actually called the police on one neighbor who was allowing his 10-year-old to set off huge-ass fireworks that went up above their two-story house and onto my tree line, which was completely dried out by a lack of rain. It was 10:30 PM, and I was told by the police that any fireworks up in the air like that were illegal. Made sense to me: pretty dangerous. And especially for a 10-year-old...HELLO?? And it's 10:30PM. Send your kid to bed!

So this year, that would be legal? If you smell smoke and see flames, send the firetrucks to my house.

Now don't get me wrong: I like to have a good time just like anyone else. But we live about two blocks from an absolutely enormous open field surrounding a school (another former farm). Why the hell not go out there and do this instead of our thickly-settled neighborhood?

Wow, I just realized I posted on this very topic about a year ago. I guess some things never change. At least I've had no altercations with my neighbor since I called the sherrif last year (knock on wood!).

ADDENDUM (7/4/2006):
And with what does Wife surprise me this evening? Our own stash of fireworks!!! They're the kind that just make a lot of smoke and spin around on the ground. Oh, the humanity!

But boy oh boy was that fun! Yeah, just feeling a little hypocritical right about now...

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I've had yet another busy weekend: the 3rd of 4. Wife's family has been in town, and we've been "camping" at a nearby state park. I used quotes around "camping" because we (Wife, Moose, Wife's Parents, and I) actually rented a cabin on the grounds of said state park, while Wife's sister and partner were in their trailer at the campground itself. It was fun, though I was running back & forth between the state park and town late last week since I still needed to work. No complaints: I'll take a "real" job over a vacation at this point in my life. As a result of the running around and fresh air, my ass is tired. Last night I went to bed at 9:30, sound asleep. Woke up at 6:30 AM today. NINE hours of sleep? Hardly ever happens.

However, the early bedtime is good conditioning for the schedule I'm going to try & start keeping starting tomorrow. It involves getting up before the crack of dawn (good idea from my colleague John) to attempt to get my dissertation work done. I'll work my "real job" hours from about 10 AM - 5PM or so (start at 11 AM if I have no lunch hour plans). So, if I can get to my campus office (did I mention I have my own office now?) by 7 or 8 at the latest, then I'll have a few hours each morning to get something done during my peak brain power time. Guess I'm a morning person at heart. I hope to use Saturday mornings in the same way, so I still have plenty of family time Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. We'll see how this goes, but I fiugre a few hours each day is better than no hours.

I enjoy getting lots done in the morning. Today I've already exercised (I know, Rob EXERCISED?), shaved/bathed, paid a couple of bills, had breakfast with Wife, Moose, and Wife's Parents, and now I'm actually finding time to write this blog. Still about an hour before we leave for church...mabe I'll tidy up Home Office for while? This afternoon I'm going to Campus Office to put up pictures and such. I have a window at said office, so I'm looking forward to getting that set up. Perhaps I'll eventually move the home office/prison to campus?