Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And I was concerned...HA

It's important for qualitative researchers to run data results by the participants in a study. This is called a member check, and it allows the participants to voice their agreement, or disagreement, with the findings. It's one of several ways the researcher can verify his findings are grounded in data and not being pulled out of his ass.

This process has been looming over my head because it's taking me a long while to get the results analyzed. The longer it takes, the tougher it will be for me to reach the participants for a member check. It's now been over a year since I conducted my last interview, so one can understand my stress. Most of them gave me their alumni e-mail addresses from the college they attended, which may work. And I do have cell phone information for most, though those numbers may no longer work. And frankly, I'm not all that comfortable just cold-calling people I've only met for one hour of their entire lives.

It occurred to me that many of the participants may be up on Facebook. Fortunately, I've found all of them but two. Not bad! So, there is hope in me actually reaching a good number of them. This is a good thing.

Ah, technology. I love ya, I love ya.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Night B4 Christmas

Yeah, and all's quiet in the house, not a creature is stirring, and all that other stuff. It's been a great week thus far. Wife's family is here, as per our norm, and we've had a nice day running to the store together (we chose to BUY Christmas cookies this year instead of make them...not an easy decision for Wife), eating a big meal, and attending church. Did I mention we found a church here? We like it; we've joined yet another falling-off-the-left-edge-of-liberal mainline Protestant church that could care less that I had no formal religious background till I was 27. Anyhow, Moose is in bed, so we're watching TV, snacking, sorta each of us just doing our own thing. People are starting to go to bed. I guess Santa is going to clank down the big ole chimney here in about 25 minutes.

I tend to get more reflective on the year during Christmas eve than I do during New Year's eve. I guess it's a much more calm holiday for me, with more time to think.

2008 has been had a good year for me and the family. With a turbulent period between 2002 and 2007, I admit that having a good year is still seems like a rare, wonderful thing. I don't mean for that to sound dramatic. Rather, I guess I try to take the good times as a gift, though I probably don't always behave that way every day.

It's been truly amazing to see my wife's new career unfold during this year. She fits right in and is enjoying learning a new line of work. Special-needs advocacy fits her very well, and she brings with her a natural ability to explain a complex system to just about anyone, combined with an understanding of how best to present information. Both skills are probably a throw-back to her days of performing and teaching, so this job seems like a really good next step. I'm so darn happy for her.

Moose makes really good progress in school and is learning new words and phrases seemingly every day. I'm thankful we're here in a larger city instead of being stuck in the middle of nowhere where the local school administrators have their heads up their collective ass about how to spend money to train teachers and support special-needs children. Brief rant over. Also, Moose grows like a weed. Holy shit the kid is tall. He will certainly surpass both of his parents' height when he is a teenager, I just know it.

My job is fine. Most important, I have one, and I am likely to continue having one even during these weird-ass economic times. The fact is I actually like this job a great deal. It's not perfect, but nothing is. And, I realize now that I don't think I really ever liked my former jobs all that much. Sure, I liked portions of them, and many of my colleagues were just fantastic, but the career never felt entirely right before now. Now it really suits me well, I believe. Even with that said, I'm beginning to wonder what the next step will be. I'm certainly not in a hurry to leave and start something new anytime soon, but I do always like to have a next step in mind. It's just part of my personality, I suppose. So, we'll see what ideas may sprout about in 2009.

I'm confident the doctorate will come to an end sometime in 2009. It probably won't be complete before the actual act of graduation in the spring, but I plan on being very close to finished by then. I plan to walk in the graduation ceremony held by my department in May, even though I won't be completely done. I suspect the ceremony itself will motivate me to finish up whatever product I will have by that time.

My extended family appears to be healthy and well. I'm thankful for this.

We are fortunate to keep in touch with many friends, though mostly from cities where we used to live. I look forward to staying put here in LSC several more years and having more friendships develop here in our present world as a result. But I'm thankful for having many contacts throughout the country and even a few overseas. I consider my friends part of who I am, especially the ones who have lasted in spite of not physically being together for numerous years at a time. To any friends who may be reading this, particularly those of out town: we've not yet done a holiday card this year. It'll probably be a New Year's card instead. :-)

I just heard the thump of Santa's sleigh on the roof, so I should sign off and make sure he finds the cookies and milk. Thanks to any of you who may still continue to read this. It does mean a great deal. G'night.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Sand is Settling

Picture walking into a shallow lake and kicking up sand with your feet when you're under water. The sand moves around and eventually settles back to the ground. 

That's sorta where I am now in the analysis. The sand is just about to settle back down on the bottom of the lake around the place where I just walked. I suppose this is good...it means I'm getting somewhere. It means I'm getting to the point where I don't need to kick up the sand anymore to see what's really at the bottom of the lake. Am trying, desperately, to make a connection between settled sand and a settled data analysis. OK, that probably didn't communicate very well here. haha. 

Anyway, much of today has been really productive. Still, it's sand at the bottom of a lake. It's all seeming to be rather boring today. Ho hum. Oh well...at least this puppy is moving somewhere. Just a few more summaries to go now. If I can get these done today or tomorrow, things will really feel like they're in a good spot. 

I do need to find a way to spice up the presentation of all this data. I think when I finalize the nature of the cross-connective themes, then I'll be better able to make all this a bit more snappy.