Sunday, March 25, 2007

Undercity Weekend

I had a nice undercity weekend here at home. Oh, "undercity" means "suburban." I'm just funny that way. I'm not sure how my neighborhood can be suburban where there's nothing truly urban anywhere nearby. I think I've identified a paradox: How can a suburban neighborhood be truly suburban with no nearby urban area? Discuss!

Anyway, I think this was one of the only weekends since I have been a homeowner (when we established Chesterley in 2002) that I did not feel any school work hanging over my head. Remarkable. We cleaned up the yard and put down mulch on most of the flower beds. So far we've put down 13 of those 2 cubic feet bags of the hardwood mulch. I think we need about three or four more for this one area along a fence line, but we need to wait for the hostas and bleeding hearts to come up first. We're trying a new weed-reducing method (just in a few spots) of laying newspaper down on the beds where we know plants are not growing and then covering them with the mulch (aren't we the little weekend warriors?) (so damn undercity of us). I hate weeding, but I hate how weeds look even worse. So, all of the beds except for one are done...and that one should be done next weekend when the plants start to come up. Feels like we're doing all we can to foster good healthy spring & summer gardens. I like gardening. I especially like it when I don't feel like I REALLY should be doing something else. Wife and I enjoy gardening together. Much fun. We like seeing the results of our work, and hopefully we'll reap some rewards for this work in a month or two when the growing season really kicks off.

This year I'm not going to use regular fertilizer on our lawn. I need to research organic lawn treatments, since Moose may be sensitive to toxins and stuff. It'll be different, but I always felt a little bit strange about pouring chemicals into our lawn and then later rolling around in the lawn with Moose and Chester. Should be a fun adventure, and perhaps less expensive than the fertilizers we'd buy at Large Home Improvement Store Out at the State Highway.

For dissertation work this week, I will edit hither & yon and await IRB and DC approval patiently. I've sent the proposal draft out to a few colleagues and relatives for their edits. Sort of fun to hear what they have to say. I realize this activity of sharing the work is part of my extraversion: I get energy from other people. Even with writing, I need to make it a social process. Otherwise, I'd seriously lose my mind and would probably lay mulch and newspaper over it by accident.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Two Milestones, No Libraries

I'm happy to report this is the first Saturday in a couple of months (not counting weekends out of town) where I will not go into my campus office for the day. The reason: last Wednesday about at 3:30 AM, I turned in a draft of my dissertation proposal to DC, "in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Large Midwest University." DC is leaving tomorrow for two weeks, and she won't have time to read it till she's traveling back to town. That's OK: I need a little break here. Hopefully it'll be just about ready to go, and I can set up a defense within the couple of weeks or so after her return.

In addition, yesterday I turned in my documentation for the Protection of Human Subjects (Institutional Review Board, or IRB) approval process. This is to prove I'm not planning on injecting my interview participants with air and then sitting around to see what happens. I got DC's signature on those forms just before she jetted out of here, so I'm glad to have that ball rolling. It's good I have the two-week buffer till DC can read the proposal, because it may take that long to get the IRB approval completed.

So, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. Heck, the tunnel itself is getting shorter. I CAN'T WAIT to start interviewing my participants and actually collecting data to see where this grounded theory study is gonna go.

Today Wife and I are pondering what we'll do together will all this Time. We're taking a vacation in May for our tenth wedding anniversary. She asked me to go with her TO THE LIBRARY today to check out some books to plan the trip. The LIBRARY? more books! Maybe we'll go get some mulch for the flower beds, or paint the kitchen, or something....but not the library!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Chester!

I almost completely forgot that today is Chester's birthday! He's 8. EIGHT?? And to think, he used to fit in the palm of my hand. Literally.
I don't have a more recent picture of Chester than this one, taken last fall with me and Moose. This was just a spontaneous shot...both boys hopped in my lap at once.
Anyhow, woofa woof woof woof (translation: Happy Birthday, Chester!).

Deadline is looming

I’m working on my dissertation from home today. This came after cancelling a trip to visit relatives. I hate cancelling trips. I hate the fact I couldn’t get to my “real” job today. But, if I do not finish the proposal here soon, I will need to wait a year to collect data, and that would negatively impact all fronts: job life, home life, school life. So, no stress. None whatsoever. Ha. I value the rich life I lead outside of my professional career, but for the moment I’m needing to be a hermit. Lovely Wife is allowing me the space to do so, and the relatives we were going to visit aren’t too upset, I don’t think. But man I could use another week alone to get this done. Instead I have two days and the usual juggling of my life’s components. That’s OK…I realize I’m lucky to have components to my life. I just wish a few of them could give me a break for a couple of days…

Anyhow, I’m here in my peaceful home office/prison. I’ve been locked in here since about 8:30 AM, actually. Since the weather’s nice today (76 degrees right now), and since it’s spring break for the local schools, many of the neighborhood parents are taking time off to be with their kids…and I think they are all outside playing right now. One neighbor has a very loud motorcycle, and he is driving it up and down our street, back & forth, each time practically blasting me out of my seat. With the coffee surging through my blood right now and the constant motorcycle engine scaring the shit out of me, lemme tell ya I’m writing wicked FAST right about now.

Looks like it’s gonna rain soon. I hope it pours so I can have some quiet. I’m grumpy!

I am very close to finishing up the one major hole in chapter 2. I have about two more pages to write on chapter 3. Then I need to finish a pretty major overhaul of chapter 1, but I think I’m almost done there too. If this were due tomorrow, then I could stay up much of the night and finish. I’m actually that close.

Perhaps I’ll just stay up all night…hmm.

The motorcycle just drove by again. Pardon me while I peel myself off the ceiling.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Forecast is not as stormy

While the "to be or not to be" schedule isn't panning out as quickly and efficiently as I'd like, my perception of the urgent nature of the proposal defense date wasn't quite right either. My delay does not bring all bad news: I can take the extra week or so I need to get the proposal up to snuff, and then I should still have time to collect data. It may require taking a week off of work in April to do nothing but complete the interviews, but then the data collection will be completed and I'll be on no one else's schedule but my own.

DC gave me edits on chapter 1 over the weekend. This was waaaaay cool. She actually had me come to her house Saturday so she could explain where she wanted me to go with this. I tried to stay up all night on Sunday night to finish up edits to chapter 1. That was a dumb idea. I dragged my ass yesterday at work and didn't get nearly as far as I had hoped. Got 8 hours of sleep last night, and this morning I'm much more bright-eyed. Time to get through these edits before the work day starts at my 3/4-time job.

Details of Moose's Diet

Take a look over at Wife's blog for a very well-written post that describes the new dietary things we're dealing with for Moose. It's been exhausting on many different levels, but now we're gaining energy by seeing him "come back to us" with his personality, after about two months of sort of being away. I guess I just haven't wanted to talk about it much on this blog.

I honestly don't know what I'd do without my wife. I think she's the most patient person I've ever met.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

No More Additional Articles or Books!

I hereby place myself on a moratorium on article- and book-obtaining activities. Unless a member of my committee requests I read something different for the proposal, I am no longer allowing myself to obtain any new reading materials.

I went to the library this morning to get one additional article, and of course I came back to my office with THREE in hand. I've read the one I sought in the first place, and now I must finish up chapter three, which is now a day late.

OK, one more time:


Thank you, I needed that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

No Colon

This post has nothing to do with my, or anyone else’s, excretory system.

During these last three or four years, I’ve assumed my dissertation’s title would have a colon in it. Something like, “Rob’s Dissertation: An Exploration into the Mind of a Mad Man.” Just kidding. Well, here I am with a decent title in hand, and there’s no colon. I’ll admit, I’m a little bit stunned!

"To Be or Not To Be" Schedule

I am now officially on a tight time schedule, but I think this is doable as long as I don’t lose focus. It’s pretty simple: if I don’t finish this on time, then the dissertation gets delayed for at least a semester, if not a year, since I need to interview seniors in their last semester of college for my study. Yep, either it’s gonna happen, or it’s gonna not. I’m shooting for the former.

Revised versions of chapters 1 and 2 went to DC at our meeting yesterday morning, and she seemed pleased. There is still a small hole in chapter 2, but I know exactly what I need to do, and I have the literature sources to do as such. Now I just need to “do.”

I need to turn a draft of chapter 3 into DC by tomorrow. I thought I had said draft in my hand at yesterday’s meeting. However, I must have dreamed making edits to that. I’m not kidding. I was surprised that the draft I had in my hand during our meeting still related to the old mixed-method study. I couldn’t believe it: rather embarrassing. Fortunately DC just had a good laugh about it stating that she’s been there before. It’s good to not be alone! So I’m madly making revisions to that this morning and cutting out anything related to the old study. It’s rather freeing, I must admit. Hopefully in the next couple of hours I’ll have a decent draft which I can edit later today after I work this afternoon.

DC will read everything over the weekend and give me feedback Monday. I will incorporate her feedback early next week, and I’ll fill in the hole in chapter 2 then as well. By the end of next week, March 9, I must deliver the completed proposal to my committee. This gives them two weeks to read it. I'm supposed to defend the proposal sometime after spring break and before DC leaves for big conference she’s running at the end of the month. This should leave me just enough time to do the interviews I need to do before the end of classes this semester.

The Mozart CD is on repeat and I’ve been cranking away since 8AM here at the home office-prison. It’s either going to be late nights or early mornings from here on out. But at least it’s the home stretch for the proposal, at long last. Nothing like the end-of-the-line push to get the work done (I hope!).