Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Office Abyss

Since 2005 I have written in this blog about my need to clean my home office. This was true in both the old house and the current one. In both cases it's never been dirty. It's simply cluttered. On the surface it doesn't look too bad. I know how to shove a pile into a spot that's not very obvious to the viewer.

While this current office is the smallest of the four bedrooms in Chesterley, it actually has a large closet. This is BAD. Each time I have a visitor staying overnight in this room, I shove piles of paper into said closet. There's plenty of room left.

So I'm just shoving more stuff in there tonight in preparation for Christmas visits from relatives and needing to flip this office into a temporary bedroom. I should go through it all, but I'm not sure I will. And next Christmas the same thing will happen...Am I turning into a hoarder?

Seriously, I do plan to tackle The Office this winter. There is basically a whole bunch of stuff that can simply be shoved in the recycle bin. It's funny to find drafts and drafts of my dissertation, all of which I will either recycle or BURN.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Overwhelmingly Good

My Doctor of Philosophy degree was officially conferred today. That didn't bring about any great changes to my day or anything. I've neither grown an inch taller nor have I gained back any of my hair. In fact, even my knowledge of this day was based solely on my communication with the Doctoral Recorder as quoted in my previous post. It shouldn't be a big deal.

For fun, I went into the student system to double-check the status, and sure enough it's noted there on my transcript:
DEGREE AWARDED
Large Midwest University Degree
Large Midwest University, Small College Town
University Graduate School
Doctor of Philosophy
Major: Higher Education
Minor: Instructional Systems Technology
Minor: Educational Psychology
11-30-2010
And then it hit me. Bam! Imagine standing in front of a high-powered fan trying to inhale at an even rate of speed, only to be overwhelmed by the extremely-quick flow of air being shoved into your lungs. That's sort of how I feel right now. Or, perhaps I simply have pneumonia? Either way, that's pretty swell to see it in writing, in the transcript. Wow.

Alright. Back to work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Final Confirmation

It's been a funny week or so. After submitting the document online on Saturday the 13th, I needed to get the paperwork signed by my chair. We had a great exchange: She said she's giving me till January, and then we're going to discuss how to get this study published. I don't think I could ask for a better compliment than that. We both agreed that this is more of a beginning of a research career than an end to graduate school. That's sort of neat, though holy SHIT I'm glad the graduate school part is ending!

Then I delivered the signed paperwork to The Graduate School in person, that same day. In the past, there would have been a grumpy person sitting in that office with a ruler in hand to make sure all of my margins lined up appropriately. Since I submitted it online, I thought I circumvented that process. Au contraire mon frere! I received an e-mail from The Graduate School the following day indicating I needed to do things like: "1) remove the word 'Dedication' from your dedication page [seriously?], 2) remove the word "Abstract" from the abstract page [what the FUCK?], and 3) the margins of your CV [attached to the end of the dissertation] are too small...please readjust." THOSE were the barriers between me and finishing? Um...OK. Whatever.

It took me just a few minutes to make the changes and resubmit. Then I gently prodded The Main Office of my Department to ensure the details of my transcript were in line (we receive temporary grades for "dissertation research" credits till the dissertation is done, and those need to be cleared out before our degree is conferred). That was completed last Friday.

So today I finally received the following note from The Graduate School:
Dear Robert of Chesterley,

All requirements are now completed for the awarding of your Ph.D. degree. Your official graduation date is November 30, 2010.

The Office of the Registrar will mail your diploma to your Student Home Address approximately three months after your official graduation date. Please verify that this address in [The Student System] current and correct for the mailing of your diploma. If your Student Home Address is incorrect, please contact the Registrar's Office.

Also, please check your Primary Name in [The Student System] for your diploma. If your name is incorrect, please contact the Registrar's Office.

I will submit the final approved version of your dissertation to ProQuest/UMI for publishing after your official graduation date.

Congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment!

Best Regards,

"Jane Q. Smith"
Doctoral Recorder
University Graduate School
Large Midwestern University
So, I guess that's it. It's all done. The curtain is down. The orchestra cadenced. There's nothing more to do but be a doctor from here onward.

I am of two minds. I'm so glad this crap is finally finished. Holy smokes. At the same time, this journey has been one of the best things for my career. Even after having a shitty day at work, I still come out of the experience actually liking my job. If it weren't for the doctorate I would not have joined this research field. So I'm thankful for that experience. And I'm also thankful this journey has finally ended.

Yay.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Study #07- 11947 Complete

I heard back from DC yesterday. She had a few minor changes for me to make. And then she wrote:
I think once you make these changes it is ready to go. I don't need to see it again.
After saying out loud, "Are you fucking kidding me?", after the hooping and hollering at my on-campus desk stopped, and after getting dinner and a drink with a friend (planned weeks before), I finished the edits late last night. Today I did the final formatting edits and conversion into a PDF....

Just minutes ago I deposited the completed dissertation via the online system we use at LMU. It's DONE!!!

Time to head out for dinner and a movie with Wife. Life is back to normal again for the first time in over 8 years.

What a great day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Back in DC's Court

Boing! I served the ball back over to my chair. I got through the dissertation revisions over the weekend. Am pretty excited about this. I sent it back to her overnight on Sunday, and I received a response yesterday saying she's away for a couple of days but will get to it when she returns. It's all in her court now. Hopefully she'll respond in a timely manner and we can get TFD turned into The Graduate School forever! My goal is this month, but if that's not going to happen then so be it. December 2010 will be just as fine...as long as the year is 2010. My goal all along was the walk in graduation during the same year I submitted the dissertation!!!

I've been reading up on all the little procedures I'll need to do before turning it in. It's fascinating. It's almost like one needs an additional doctorate in certain technology in order to get the submission correct, and to follow all of the rules. One of the directions actually says, "Don't forget to embed your fonts." Excuse me? Isn't that a bit personal? Hahahahaha. I crack up myself. Fortunately the powers that be go on to explain what the hell that means in the directions. It's all good.

So, I wait. But I relax, probably for the first time in about 8 1/2 years.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Reflections

The dissertation defense was a deeper experience for me than I anticipated it would be. I have been so focused on finishing the paper while balancing other aspects of life that I think I’ve lost a bit of myself along the way. Or, at least I’ve lost a bit of my ability to feel. Here I stand at the end of the journey as I complete these final ten revisions (did I mention there are ten?), and I find myself trying to pick up various pieces of my brain that I may have dropped behind me by mistake, much like one would drop breadcrumbs in a forest in order to find one’s way home.

The funny thing is that tonight I find myself remembering the end of high school. I didn’t know it when I was there, but that was one of the times in my life when I felt powerful. I was a badass pianist. I honestly don’t know if I was ever a better pianist than senior year of high school. I got into college on my piano skills and, I guess, the fact that I could write my way out of a box. I was at the top of my game as a pianist, I was in decent physical shape, I had a full head of hair... things were going well.

I went to college and the comparison bug started. I was constantly comparing myself with others and immediately making bad judgments against myself. Not sure where that came from. Instead of the constant comparison being a motivating force to compete and perform better, it got to be pretty damaging. And I lost myself in the process. I couldn’t be good enough to satisfy me. There were times I didn’t even try. I had to spend a long while picking up the pieces after college. Don’t get me wrong: I was a decent musician upon graduation, but what was I doing with music then? Could I really identify as a musician? Not really. And I never ended up working in music full-time afterward, so it was easy to feel a bit lost after having gained admission to college as a musician, for crying out loud.

Then I started my master’s degree. It wasn’t as bad. I was finding myself in a new career, and in general I liked it. It took me a few years to pick up the pieces again, but I was able to do alright. And ultimately I had picked them up enough to hold a good job, do well, marry the Wife, have a kid, and start the doctorate appropriately. Life was pretty good.

So, at least I’ve been through the piece-picking-up process a few times in the past, and I’ve been successful with it. In fact, I think the process has already started. Colors appear brighter. Music sounds clearer. In general I feel more powerful. I’m more centered. I feel more capable. And apparently, people are interested in what I think. That’s pretty neat. Maybe I have badass thoughts? The good kind of badass, though, not the “I’m a bad person,” badass.

Finally. Self-confidence is a good thing. And it’s been on holiday a long, long time.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Passed!!! ...with some editing required

I tried to tweet about this yesterday, but for some reason my Twitter ap on my phone refused to accept my userID and password. Oh well.

I passed the defense! I have a few edits to do, and but they are minor, according to my chair. Phew! Am going to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to plow through as many of those as possible before I start forgetting details. If I can finish them up in the next couple of weeks, then I will go into Thanksgiving with a LOT for which to be thankful!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Final Preparation

I met with DC last Friday afternoon, and she told me I will have five minutes to provide an overview of my study to the committee and any visitors who will be in the room.

Five minutes? I'd have an easier time with 60 minutes. Five??

Well, early this morning I completed a draft of a five-minute presentation (FIVE??), and I ran it by two colleagues over lunch today. Remarkably they didn't fall asleep. At least not entirely. They also provided very helpful feedback that I will incorporate in this evening.

I'll practice just a few more times, and then I'll go to bed. Early. Zzzz

I'm not that stressed about it, honestly. Sure, I'm nervous. I am human, after all. But I think it's ultimately going to go well. I certainly will not peak too soon with this five-minute presentation, though. Geez.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Defense Preparation

Eight years of work is coming down to a 90-minute meeting with my committee? Anyone out there care to share ideas for how I should prepare for the dissertation defense next Wednesday? Perhaps a good combination of alcohol and prayer could work...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One more week

One week from today I'll be pulling out my hair and biting off my nails as I prepare for my defense. At this point, I can't wait to get it done. Am not really dreading the experience...I'm dreading the anticipation of the experience. I hope the week just flies by...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recovery

It's funny: I'm not all that nervous about the defense just yet. I'm certain I will be a few days beforehand. For now, I just feel like it's done, like I've submitted a paper for class and I'm simply waiting for the final grade. I'm moving on to a few important tasks I have this week and next at work (like three presentations at two conferences between now and the 24th), and I'm starting to get back into a regular sleep pattern. Even went out of town with the family last weekend to visit relatives, which is something I've not done in a long while (usually I stay home alone to work on the paper).

I find it to be funny that I find myself in recovery mode. I'm just plumb tired. Supremely tired. Not physically, but mentally. To the point where I wonder if I'll find the energy again. It's just a feeling, and I realize it's not reality. The only thing I can chalk it up to is just needing time to recover from the stress of the last eight years or so. Let's hope it does not take me eight more years to recover! haha.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's completely out of my hands

At high noon today, I sent my completed dissertation to my committee. There's nothing more I can do till the defense on 11/3. So, I wait.

And as the weight of the final edits lifted, by body proceeded to fall apart. I have a completely mysterious toothache (just days after having a cavity filled on another tooth) that turned majorly painful, and I think I have a sinus infection as a hold-over from a head cold I had over a week ago. No fever though. But I even went to the doctor and phoned the dentist. I haven't been in this much pain in...well, I don't know, but it sucked. Am on a nasal steroid and major Advil amounts till I can see the dentist Thursday morning.

Kinda funny how the body works. Holds itself together till it knows it can let go. Am feeling better now that I'm home and legally drugged. I think I'm going to sleep well tonight!


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Copy Edit Hell

Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.

I need to keep saying this to keep me motivated today.

Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.
Copy edits suck, but they will make for a better dissertation defense in the end.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Defense is One Month from Today

I've been remiss about posting an update or two in the last couple of days:

First, I did finish up that last bit of unexpectedness Sunday night. I had a head cold, so I decided to sleep in Monday and I did a final edit of everything from home later that morning. Sent it off to DC around 1:00 PM that day.

Second, my defense announcement now appears on the LMU web site with "upcoming Ph.D. dissertation defense announcements," so it's getting very real now. I guess I'm a bit nervous on the emotional side, though the logical side knows that ultimately it will go just fine. Hell, my qualifying exam defense did not necessarily go very well, but I passed. I didn't know what the hell I was talking about then. THIS should be just fine. A couple of colleagues have asked to attend the defense, as these things are technically open to the public. Not sure yet how I feel about having anyone else in the room besides The Committee and Wife. I'll have to think about that.

So at this point, I'm simply doing another copy edit of the whole document and awaiting DC's comments on Chapter 6 Draft 3. Hopefully the third time will be a charm once again. I am seriously considering saying, "No DC. No more editing. I'm done. It's over," if she were to give me additional feedback. Yeah, I'll just keep dreaming about that little joke.

More later. Bye.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

One Final Bump in the Road

I knew it would happen: I knew there would be one more hurdle to cross. It's not a big deal, but it threw me off guard this late in the game.

DC wondered why I had not included one well-known theorist's work in my dissertation. Well, I had included this person's work in my dissertation proposal in 2007, and my chair suggested I remove it at that time. I did, but I saved the text in a separate document just in case.

Glad I saved it. Now we're discussing whether or not to include this author's work in my final chapter as an unexpected finding. Really? How is it unexpected when I had initially thought it should be in there from the beginning? DC asked whether or not I agree with her point of view to include this theorist's work. I do agree, but indirectly, since I think this literature should have been a consideration all along.

At this point, I'm just saying, "yes, ma'am," I agree. All of our communication is done through e-mail, and I really REALLY hate using e-mail for communication of important information.

It's really not a big deal. I'll pull what I already wrote in 2007 and adjust it to fit into this chapter. I aim to have this complete this evening. Too bad I developed a fucking head cold on the eve of when I'll complete the fucking dissertation, but it's par for the course these last five years.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Date has been Set

I will defend my dissertation on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in the early afternoon. Crazy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No More Waiting

Got a note from DC today with just a few suggestions for edits, but nothing too major. She suggested I get to work on scheduling the dissertation defense sometime in the next 6-8 weeks. Wowzas. She even said this:
This reports some really interesting stuff! You WILL publish this model...it is good.
Seriously?

Looks like we'll have plenty for which to be thankful at Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I wait


I wait for a response from DC. This has been a long week. I grow impatient. I also grow to enjoy not working on the dissertation, which is BAD! Hopefully my impatience will be kept at bay.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Remembering 9-11-2001

I neglected to mention yesterday that Wife and I did spend some time remembering the 9-11 tragedy. We were living in the Southeast, within two hours of the Pentagon, actually. Moose was not even two months old. Amidst all the tragedy unfolding relatively nearby and in NYC, it was the first day that Moose smiled. Imagine the irony in it all when that happened? Crazy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Different Saturday

It's pretty swell to be using an early Saturday morning to finish up a conference presentation proposal that pertains to my job and not to my dissertation. It has a tangible end to it, like in the next 30 minutes or so when it will be submitted and complete.

I've not yet heard from DC on the chapter, other than a confirmation e-mail on Thursday that she's adding it to her "To Do list." Fine by me: gives me time to take a breather from it. When I have time this weekend, I'll incorporate edits from a former colleague of mine who graciously took some time to read it last week. But the rest of the weekend will actually be a weekend. What's that like?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Out of My Hands

Yesterday afternoon, I turned in the draft of Chapter the Sixth to DC. Glad it's now out of my hands!

I've had some fun with pulling together all of the separate Word documents into one long document for the dissertation. I know, I know: it's strange that I have "fun" with technical stuff when most people run screaming from the room. Nevertheless, it's really swell to see it all coming together in one document. At this point, I need to write the abstract and official dissertation defense announcement pages. The former is a formal 350-word summary of the study, and the latter is a more informal announcement of my dissertation defense that's supposed to be in non-technical language. Honestly, if someone said I'd need to run defense for the Chicago Bears in order to defend, I'd do it. I really don't care - I'll do whatever the hell they tell me to at this point to get the fucker done.

I slept really well last night. I think I'm slowly beginning to unwind after 8 years of being pretty wound up. I know I still will have plenty of editing to do for Chapter the Sixth unless by some miracle it actually makes sense to DC. But somehow the thought of editing and writing the silly abstracts and stuff isn't nearly as daunting of having another full draft of something hanging over my head.

'Night.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I landed the plane

The landing gear came down and locked in place. It was a relatively smooth landing, if I do say so myself.

I just finished the first draft of the final chapter of my dissertation. It's all about editing from here. Holy SHIT that's pretty tough to believe. Honestly, I'm not yet certain the chapter is all that good, but at least the drafting is done. I will edit the shit out of it tomorrow and then send whatever I have to DC for her feedback.

Can't wait for this to be over. Time to watch Mad Men now.

Monday, August 30, 2010

With Good Reason

I'm in year eight-and-a-half of this doctorate. I am fortunate that only a very small number of people have come right out and said, "Why the fuck is it taking you so long?" I actually don't mind the candor of those rare few, though I do find them a bit annoying and, well, social-climbing or one-upping. I don't make much time for those who climb or one-up (yes, that's right: "one-up" is now a verb). While I wouldn't refer to these people as my friends, as I said I don't mind the candor. What I do mind are others whom I can tell are thinking about asking this question but don't actually have the balls to do so. I can pretty much see right through them.

So I usually explain to both those with and without balls that the dissertation is my third priority behind 1) the family and 2) the job. The order of importance will never change. My priority list may not seem to be a full plate to some, but my family life can be a bit different than it probably is for others much of the time...

For example, read the Wife's post from this evening. Then ask me again why I'm not done yet. After an evening like this, I think I have a good reason to let my brain fry in front of the TV for 90 minutes. I just don't see a problem with it. So maybe I won't make much progress on the dissertation this evening, but I did help comfort my kid as he mentally tortured himself for 45 minutes about an issue with our telephone that doesn't really exist. Being there for him was far more important than working on the fucking dissertation.

I don't intend to use my son's disorder an excuse. It's part of the balance of our lives, and I wouldn't give up that balance for anything. In spite of Moose's disorder, or my "mixed-up" (ha) priorities, or any of the other stuff that life has brought our way in the last several years, I am still making progress on TFD. Wife and I are still married. My kid is growing like a weed, and he's healthy. Bottom line, I am being true to my priorities, and the process is working for me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fasten Seatbelt Sign

The captain has turned on your fasten seatbelt sign in preparation for the landing of The Fuquing Dissertation. Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened, seat backs are in their upright and locked position, and tray tables are stowed. Any carry-on items should be stored securely for the duration of the flight. Portable electronic devices are no longer allowed to be used until we are safely on the ground.

I finished the pain-in-the-ass revisiting of the literature section. It's literature I really hadn't read in about three years since I wrote the proposal. I honestly felt like I was pulling that stuff out of my ass in this section, so it pretty much sucks. But the draft is DONE and it's time to move on.

I have two sections left to write for this entire dissertation. One is rather large: the explanation of the actual theory. But that's been in my head for a long while now, and I should be able to write that relatively quickly. The second is less large than the first: the research and practical implications. Again, I have had ideas for both of these floating around in my head for a while, and some of these come out in a few discussions that I've had with family and colleagues on the theory itself.

I have to admit I feel like the rest of this fucker could write itself! Of course, everything always takes longer than I anticipate it will, so we shall see. Wife and Moose will be out of town for the long holiday weekend, and I will have no reason NOT to finish the draft before they return.

That is really weird to say that I'm almost done. Really. Really?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mid-way through Chapter the Sixth

I'm resorting to some funny techniques to keep me writing these days. Last night I powered through a good structure for the first section of this last chapter where I review literature that is relevant to my theory and note where it converges or diverges from what actually happened in the study. There's so much floating around in my head, that in order to focus I'm writing small half-sentences, knowing I will go back and write real sentences later. So, it's looking sorta like this.
[Quick fox - jumps over the dog].
...knowing it will need to become...
The quick, brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
So it's sort of funny to see a bunch of sentence phrases in [brackets] like that all over the page, but soon I will turn those into rich, thick, descriptive prose that will tell the story of my study.

Yeah, and I hope the four people who have to read about it don't fall asleep!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No More Public School

As I mentioned earlier, Wife and I have been trying to make a decision on whether or not to keep Moose enrolled part-time in the public schools. As of yesterday, we indeed decided to pull him out. The decision is based on a couple of factors, first and foremost being that we're not allowing for either program (the verbal-behavior clinic and the public school classroom) to really have their maximum benefit when he's not attending either full-time.

Also, we had him at the elementary school in the first place to maintain a relationship with the public schools because we always thought that eventually he would catch up and be able to interact with his age-appropriate peers. However, at this point, given the fact that he's three years behind his peers in terms of their academic skills, we can't imagine he will be able just to magically make up that gap. He probably never will; let's be real about it. So WHY pull him out of the verbal-behavior clinic, that we know is helpful to him, in order to spend a few hours at the school, where we're uncertain of the impact? Maintaining a relationship for a just-in-case-he-could-go-there-someday scenario isn't really a good-enough reason.

It's funny: It just doesn't occur to me that he's behind his peers when we're interacting with him at home. He's all we know about child-rearing, so this is our normal state of affairs. Given that Wife and I will soon have five college degrees shared between the two of us makes it all seem sort of ironic. Schooling has been so important to the two of us. However, with our child formal schooling is really sort of arbitrary. It won't really make an impact on him. That's kinda weird.

It's not devastating or anything: I mean, he's not going to die of autism disorder. But it's just weird. Weird in an uneasy, sick sorta way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Writing and Playing

Earlier this afternoon, I played through one of the Bach two-part inventions on the piano. I used a technique for learning new music that I've used since I was about five years old: First play through the right hand part, then play the left-hand part, finally play both hands together, slowly. That first time playing both hands together takes some courage. One must be strong and work through the nerves, and then focus so that one's hands operate independently of each other yet still stay in sync with the music on the page.

It occurred to me there are many similarities between playing Bach and writing. For me, the prep work one must do before writing is very much like playing the parts one hand at a time. During the act of actually writing the first page or two, I get a little nervous about it, much like trying to play the invention with both hands at the same time. Usually when I work through the first couple of paragraphs, the rest falls into place, save for a few potholes along the way that I know will take some extra work to get into my fingers. I'll get to that someday. This is similar to that last sentence at the end of that section that you know really sucks, and someday I may be inspired to find better words to fill in the gap.

The main accomplishment from my self-banishment last week was to get through the first couple of pages or so. But there are those nerves, wondering if what I've done is on the right track. Before I did too much more today, I e-mailed back and forth with DC to ask her about a couple of questions that I've had to check and see if I'm on the right track with this last chapter. As it turns out, I am indeed correct. Onward, then. I guess I just need to keep practicing with both hands.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Self-banishment Day 2

Hi. Posting a day late.

It went well. I indeed finished the edits on chapter 4 AND on chapter 3. I completely forgot I did the ones on chapter 3 quite some time ago, but I had a little further to go (I mean, is editing ever really finished?). So by about Noon yesterday, I reckon I officially finished 'good-enough' drafts of chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5! By about dinner time I had a solid outline of Chapter the Sixth, and before I hit the sack I had written about the first 2 pages. Writing the first few pages of any chapter is usually the hardest part for me, so I figure all in all it was a productive few days away.

I came home around Noon today, and I've been out with the fam running errands, buying new shoes (for the first time in about five years, seriously), hitting the grocery store, and now we're in for the evening. If I feel the energy, I'll plug away a bit more on the chapter tonight and will plan to do more tomorrow afternoon. May not have the entire draft finished by Monday as I had originally planned, but I'm making good progress. Bye.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Self-banishment Day 1

I checked into my self-banishment hotel last night, and I tried to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, last night and this morning I had to finish up a couple of projects from work-work, but that happens when one spends waaaay too much time in various meetings and not enough time at one's desk. LOL. Work's all good: just a lot of transition at this time.

Anyhow, Wife was kind enough to stop by and rescue me for a nice lunch. Thanks Sweetie! And then I really got running on the ground early this afternoon. I've completely finished edits of Chapters 1, 2, and 5, and I'll finish up edits on Chapter 4 this evening. Tomorrow morning I'll do the edits on Chapter 3 and will get to drafting Chapter the Sixth in the afternoon. Guess I'm sort of a writing fool, as I should be!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Back in the 'Brary

I'm spending yet another beautiful Saturday in the library. That's life for now, I suppose. I've been slowly editing the front end - chapter 1 was easy. Chapter 2 is taking longer, but finishing it up is my goal for today. Would be great to go through Chapter 3 tomorrow if possible, since I suspect it will be almost as quick as Chapter 1. Then the proposal will officially be part of the dissertation, and I can move on to Chapter the Sixth.

Should be a good day today. A colleague may meet me here, and then a small group of us, including PR#3, will go out for dinner this evening.

I'm taking this upcoming Thursday and Friday off from work, and I will practice self-banishment Wednesday night through Saturday morning. Yep, going back to a hotel, similar to last year, to see how much of Chapter the Sixth I can draft out. I plan to pretend it's due on the following Monday and get that type of last-minute energy powering the wind in my sails. I'm sure I'll update the blog accordingly.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

At Long Last

Alright. At long last, I am finally finished with that bear of a results chapter!!! I've sent it off to my two mothers (my mom and Wife's mom) for a good thorough edit. My mom is a longtime educator, and Wife's mom is a brilliant editor. I'm certain both will provide excellent feedback.

Now I no longer have to resist temptation to go back to the beginning and edit the front half. I'm finally doing it. I've changed my mind on the order of my tasks. I was going to draft Chapter the Sixth next. However, I figured that editing the front half first will better prepare me to write the concluding chapter, since it will put the reasons for doing the study in the first place (!!!) fresh in my mind.

I did work a bit more on Chapter the Sixth yesterday, though. I ran my theory (MY theory?) by PR3 yesterday afternoon. PR3 helped me respond to the three questions DC posed when she gave me feedback last week by basically agreeing with my thoughts and providing logical reasons for why she agreed. So now I actually believe I'm not just making up this stuff off the top of my head. Swell!

Once I see how long the editing takes me today, I may be able to map out when I'll continue onward with drafting Chapter the Sixth.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A bit more feedback

I mentioned in my last post that I shared the outline for the final chapter along with the theoretical model for...um...my (my??) theory. I've not shared that with very many people at this point, so I'm surprised the act of sharing it with DC didn't cause me much angst. Probably a sign that I just want this thing to be finished.

Anyhow, she wrote back within 24 hours and asked me three very helpful questions about the model that she'd like me to answer within the context of the chapter. She also encouraged me to make my case in the explanation. So, I guess that means she's supportive and wants to learn more about the theory. I mean, about MY theory. Still getting used to that. She ended her e-mail with, "Good work," so I suppose this puppy is mine to finish, at this point.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moving Onward to Chapter the Sixth

Today I got up enough courage to ask if DC had received my latest draft that I sent on July 12. I also said I was looking at the front half of the dissertation, putting it in the past tense, and writing about what happened (as opposed to what will or could happen, when I wrote the proposal).

It was strange that I hadn't heard anything from her, not even a "I got it," type of e-mail after sending the draft.

She responded within 10 minutes saying,
I'm working on it right now!!! Did you sense me? I think it's in good shape, my comments are minor. What you are doing with the front half is perfect. I'll send feedback in a bit.
And she did. And indeed, it was minor...but it also helps to improve it a great deal. So this is good!

She then asked, "Anyway, how is chapter 6 going?" I sense she wants me to finish. What more could one ask for from a chair? I gave her the outline of what I'm working on at this point, and even my theoretical model which I've already completed. Perhaps I'll hear back on this part soon.

I may hold off on the literature update, in spite of what I said in my last post. We'll see. Or, I may just do it as part of my overall edit, too, if it doesn't take too much time. Not sure yet.

Next task is to get the last chapter drafted. Wow. That's pretty swell.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anticipatory Revisions

I like my new blog design so much that it makes me want to write up here more frequently. But I'm not sure what to say at this point, so I'm just rambling.

I had lunch with a friend today, and his perspective calmed me down a bit about what I perceive is a lack of communication from DC due to the fact that it's summer. See, I hear that there are a few other things that may be expected of me before my dissertation defense, but I'm not hearing about them from DC. Instead, they're coming from peers. These things are good, reasonable tasks that I can understand needing to do, but I don't know why DC has neglected to tell me these details. I suspect it's a factor of no longer living in SCT. Out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps.

Anyhow, the perspective is this: Why don't I just anticipate that DC WILL eventually clue me into these details in the future, and go ahead and tackle some of these things myself. That way, it won't be a big deal later on, and perhaps she'll just gloss over this stuff since it's already done. For example, I wrote the literature review chapter in late 2006 and early 2007. If other relevant articles on my topic have been published since then, then I should include those in the dissertation as well. I don't plan to write a new chapter or anything, but it could be a simple task of just adding the references into something else I've already written, or maybe just a sentence or three on the newer articles. Call it an anticipatory revision. If I can pull in a few more things without being asked to do so, then perhaps DC will just say, "OK, good, you've done it," instead of spending a great deal of time on it later. When I'm even more stressed.

Yeah. That's it. Especially now that I'm in a holding pattern on this @#$% results chapter anyhow.

There. I started writing without a topic in mind, and I ended up working something out in my head. This was good.

Bye.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bad Dreams

I was up half the night last night, stressed about TFD. I've not actually lost sleep over my doctoral work in quite some time. I guess the reason for this is that for the time being, my progress on the dissertation is out of my hands. DC has my third draft of chapter 5, and I've not yet received acknowledgement that she even received it, let alone is even reading it at this time. It's summer. Professors are under no obligation to read over the summer. OK, OK, I get it. Hearing something, anything, even a "I can't get to this right now, Rob," would be better than silence.

So my dreams went something like this: DC doesn't even start reading the chapter till next month, and then later on she tells me I need to go back to chapter 2 and add a new section of literature because it's been so long since I wrote that chapter. And then chapter 5 still isn't right. And I haven't yet finished writing chapter 6. Oh yeah, and I do have to work. And, did I mention I'm going to have a new boss in about two weeks?

Hate to say it, but I can't wait for the summer to end.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Clearance to Land the Results Chapter

The pilot has received clearance to land Flight #3 of The Results Chapter by morning. He may be up half the night flying the plane, but this flight must land before the pilot goes to sleep this evening. The fuel tank is just about on empty, the flaps are down, and the passengers are getting pissed off.

UPDATE: I managed to land the plane at 12:38 AM Monday. That's really not all that late. Glad it's out of my hands...for now. Let's hope this latest version passes DC's inspection.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What happened to May??

Clearly it's been a bit of a crazy month, seeing that my last post was May 1. Commencement, May 7, was good fun, and it was great to have the family in town. I admit the entire thing was a bit odd, seeing that I'm not yet done with the doctorate, but it was an enjoyable, and I admit monumental, event nonetheless. The speech at commencement went well, as far as I can tell. It was tough to get feedback in that environment, but I think it was well-received. I'd do something like that again! LOL

I turned in a second draft of the results chapter to DC just prior to commencement, and she was pleased to receive it. Two weeks later I received edits from her that said I need to move around major sections and tighten it up a bit. Guess I'm almost there. The process has been exhausting, though. It wasn't till after I had written the first draft that she mentioned I needed to answer my basic research questions in this chapter. I thought that was to come in the Discussion chapter, and this one was only a reporting of the results. It would have been helpful to have known that tidbit sooner! So the second draft included my responses to the research questions embedded into the already-existing chapter. DC's feedback on the second draft was that I now I need to re-organize the chapter so it more clearly focuses on the research questions, like as part of the basic structure of the chapter. Seriously? Again, would have been helpful to have known this at the beginning of this process!!! Oh well. Plug away I must, and today should be a good afternoon for doing as such. Hey, that rhymes. Kinda.

It occurs to me that we get to the end of writing these ginormous dissertations only to realize that we've never done this sort of work before and need some hand-holding on how to finish. That seems a bit backward, though. Sort of embarrassing, honestly. My chair's expectations don't quite appear to match up with the way I was led through the coursework. We don't have a very structured program at LMU, so I guess I can understand that there are different expectations from different professors. Still, it's odd that I get this far into the process, and I have to ask questions like, "How do you expect the last chapter to be structured?"

Good-bye, May. Hello summer.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Gearing upwardly

The post would have been called "gearing up," but I thought it would be better to end on an adverb instead of a preposition. Right, Donovan? :-)

Am going to try working from the home office/prison today. It's a temperate, yet soggy, day outside, and I don't feel like going out there. My writing buddies are doing other things this weekend, so I'm locking myself upstairs here at home. I mowed the lawn yesterday, fortunately avoiding today's rain, so I don't have that hanging over my head or anything. We do need to clean and dust this house before the entire family arrives next week. Oh well: tomorrow for that.

Commencement is now officially less than a week away. It should be fun, though I will feel like an impostor. I will admit, I don't see the point of participating right now. However, it has at least kept me focused on making really good progress these last couple of months, so I suppose it'll be worth it. My speech is written, and I've been practicing it here and there. Should be fun. But I'm still an impostor!

I'm becoming bored blogging about my dissertation. I'd rather write about something else. Guess I should finish up here pretty quick. I'm random today.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Still editing

It's been a crazy-busy week at work, so I've made slower-than-desirable progress on my edits due to sheer exhaustion at night. I'm in the library with my writing peeps today, so hopefully their presence will keep me focused get through these things today. More on that later.

As it turns out, I was elected to speak at the commencement ceremony in just under two weeks. I was pleasantly surprised. Should be good fun.

I attempt to ignore the fact that I'm missing an Autism Day activity a local historic museum near our home. Next year, damnit, I'm there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Editing Weekend / Commencement Preparations

Hi Blog,

Wife and Son went out of town this weekend, so my task is editing chapter 5. I took yesterday off from Work-work so I could do dissertation-work, and well, it worked! Got a good amount done in the library.

Today I've been a little lazy in that I did a few things around the house this morning and had a late lunch. Buckling down now for hopefully the next four hours or so to do more editing. Plan on doing the same later tonight and tomorrow before the fam comes home. It would be GREAT to have these done this weekend.

I've heard back from two of my three peer reviewers, both of whom gave me very helpful feedback that I will try and incorporate into this chapter. I'll also need to write up the details of that whole process in chapter 3, the method chapter, before long. The third reviewer told me she's working on things this weekend, so that's good.

So, it's all moving along. Meanwhile, I've ordered my cap and gown for commencement, which is coming up in less than three weeks. That's a bit surreal. I also learned I was nominated to speak at our department commencement ceremony, so my name will be placed on the ballot for that voting process among my colleagues. It would be a pleasure to do it, but if I don't get voted into the role, then I will gladly listen to whomever wins. It doesn't matter to me all that much, though it's certainly an honor to even be nominated.

Bye blog.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Edits

On editing the results chapter...

One of the many things I enjoy about working with DC is that she does not edit for grammar. Rather, she edits for concepts. She expects me to have the grammar part covered. Fortunately, I'm a decent writer, so I'm confident I can repair the grammar. I would rather spend the precious-little time with my dissertation chair discussing concepts rather than grammar.

That being said, receiving "a handful" of edits from my chair is more like climbing a mountain of them! I'm working my way uphill steadily, though, and perhaps I'll be able to start descending said mountain by the end of this weekend? Would be nice.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sick of it

I am sick of talking about my dissertation with other people. It's getting humiliating, actually. Not the work itself, but the time its taken me to complete it. Technically I'm two years ahead of my final deadline, which for me as a last-minute type of guy is a pretty big deal. Still, I'm sick of the judgmental looks I get from people when they ask about it. I'm sick of sharing small personal victories for myself about my progress that no one else really seems to believe are that big a deal. It feels like I'm being looked down upon when I talk about the progress I'm making, even though my progress has been decent lately. For example, instead of being happy for me that I've received feedback on this second-to-last chapter, and that it went well, I have seen colleagues roll their eyes. Or, they simply say nothing. Perhaps they are skeptical that I'll ever finish. Perhaps they wonder why I'm still bothering to work on this. I've even seen others literally fall asleep right in front of me when I do discuss the finding or the progress I am making, even when they were the ones who asked. Apparently, I have that effect on people. When did I become boring?

It hardly makes me want to walk at graduation because I won't be finished by then, and I don't think anyone is really going to understand that.

At this point, I'd rather end all of this dissertation stuff quietly, without anyone knowing about it, without all the pomp and circumstance, without hearing all the, "Finally," or, "At last!" comments I'm going to hear. I guess they'd be well-meant comments, but really, I don't think I'll want to hear that shit. From my point of view, I'm going as quickly as I can and still maintain a decent life at home and at work. This is not my top priority, and it never has been. The fact that I've still stuck with it, for me, is a pretty big deal.

So perhaps it's easier if I just stop talking about it till about a month or two after it's all over and done. I dunno, though. Wish I were better about keeping my big mouth shut.

Findings Chapter Feedback

I had a good conversation with DC on Monday about my findings chapter. She said, "For a first draft of a findings chapter, this is quite good. All of the data are there. I've seen worse. But you still have a lot of work to do."

I don't think I could ask for more, honestly. I realize I have a lot of work to do, but at least I'm not starting over on a 45-page chapter.

It's funny: I honestly don't know what I'm doing with any of this. I'm literally learning about it as I go through it. It's funny what you learn in coursework, and what you don't. I know how to conduct a research study from start to finish. I even know how to write up the results. But writing up a dissertation is apparently an entirely different thing, and I've obviously never done this before. So, there were a few things I left out of first draft because I thought they should be written about in the closing chapter. Apparently I was wrong. OK then. At this point, I'll pretty much just do whatever I'm told to get this done. It would have been nice, however, to have been told how to structure these last two chapters before I started on them in the first place!!! Ah well. After Monday's conversation, I think I've got a better handle on how to finish up this fucker.

In other news, I learned that my minor advisor (and committee member) retires at the end of this year. Good for him! Fortunately, a possible defense date either this summer or next fall will not conflict with his retirement plans, so apparently all is still well. However, it is yet another sign that I simply need to finish up very soon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Starting Sucks

I hate starting to write something. I have learned to overcome this hatred by just starting to write whatever is on my mind, as if I was telling it to someone who gives a rat's ass. Sometimes these start in the middle of a sentence, but I don't give a crap. I keep writing, knowing I'm going to have to go back and edit out the shittiness at a later date anyhow.

So I've started the last chapter. It sucks, but it's started. And now I can move on through completion.

I haven't posted photos from the bath renovation here just yet. And, I may or may not do so soon. So far it's looking good. They are moving faster than I expected, which is pretty amazing. Also, they are CLEAN. Our garage, where the supplies are being stored, is cleaner now than before the guys started. No joke.

Back to it. I wish it were raining. Would make it easier to focus, knowing the weather sucks. Instead it's in the mid-60s and sunny. I don't want to talk about it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Master Bath Renovation

Today Chesterley is getting a bit of a face lift, inside. We're starting on a renovation of the master bathroom. This is a good thing, seeing we've not used the shower stall in there for about 8 months. Fortunately it's not the only bathroom on the second floor.

We're really nervous about it. In prior fixes to things in this house, there's always something unexpected that pops up. We know something will appear here as well. We just hope it's not too much more expensive than what we've planned.

I'll post a few photos later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chester's 11th Birthday


Happy birthday, Chester! I can't believe you're 11 years old today.
This photo was snapped just after Christmas, a few months ago. Not a great picture of him, photographically, but it's what I have on me today, in my phone.
I still remember very clearly the day we brought him home from the farm where he was born. We were living in our two-bedroom apartment in a mid-size city in the Southeast. It's strange to reflect back on all that has happened in our lives since Chester joined our family, but it's really neat he's been with us the entire time. We're really lucky that for now he hops around the house as if he's still quite young. I do notice his stamina isn't quite what it used to be, but that's understandable for an old dog.
Here's to several more happy, healthy years with Chester!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Results Chapter Delivered

The editing took forever! That, and the fact that I had to change the spaces between sentences back from one space to two, due to the new APA style guide that was released last year. Pain in the ass, but it's done.

And you know, it doesn't suck. It's really not half bad. We'll see if DC agrees.

Onto the final chapter now. Wow, that's pretty damn cool.

2AM - not too bad

I finally finished writing around 1:00 AM. That took longer than I thought, but again this is not news to me. I decided not to include that one last section - it should be shoved into the Theory chapter anyhow.

I was cutting/pasting all these little Word docs into something bigger, but I was falling asleep at my desk. Ack! As a result, I feared I had cut/pasted things out of order, all over the place, in my sleep. Yikes! Fortunately I had a backup copy of one important piece I messed up, so I started part of it over.

Anyhow, it's 46 pages in a pretty raw, rough form. I will do the edits tomorrow morning and will plan to have it turned in by Noon. Whew!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Almost there

It's been a good, productive week. I've carved out time in my schedule to do both dissertation work and work-work. I've started using Twitter again (got a MUCH better app for my Damn Blackberry), so I can quickly post things up here I'd like to remember.

I have a small part of one section left to do this evening. That literally fell together quite quickly, during my last hour or so at the office today, after I had two meetings in a row. Where do I find the energy? Then, either I'm going to pull together the last section very quickly, or it'll be end up as part of the theory chapter. I haven't decided yet. Guess I should get on that soon.

When I'm done with the actual writing, I then need to pull together 12 small Word documents that I've been constructing into one big-ass document that will form the chapter in its entirety. I've been considering how I'll actually arrange all of these for some time now, so it may actually come together rather quickly. It's funny: I still don't know how many pages this chapter is going to be. That sort of cracks me up.

I may be up half the night, but that's alright. Honestly, there were some papers in my coursework that I started at 9:30 PM the night before they were due, and I would usually get A's. Tonight I'm much farther along, I'm just shooting for a draft to be done for tomorrow. No problem!

I'm not exaggerating when I say I have never been so relaxed going into An Evening before A Paper is Due in my entire academic career...and that's been a LONG career!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quilt Squares

I just realized that I haven't mentioned my quilt-square metaphor up here, and yet I referred to it in my last post. Briefly: I have no experience with quilting other than that I can see how they are constructed. One builds each quilt square first, then they are arranged in a pattern that makes sense, and then finally they are somehow all sewn together.

I view the creation of my results/findings chapter as similar to constructing a quilt. The codes that I developed from the data analysis are essentially the small squares. Some of them can be grouped together to make a larger square. First I must develop all of the small and larger squares (I've completed four . Once those are complete (perhaps by tomorrow or Monday), then I can start the process of arranging them in a logical order and finally "sewing" things together with text that connects the whole thing into one big-ass quilt.

I've already realized that I'll have a six-square quilt. Each of those squares can be broken down into three or four smaller squares. I have completed the basics for four of the six squares, and I started on the fifth one this afternoon. I hope to finish up that one tonight and possibly get through the sixth one tomorrow (that's probably too ambitious, but one must set goals).

Arranging: I honestly have already arranged them in my head. I'll play with some of the small-level details just a bit, but I think I have the arrangement of the six squares ready to go.

Sewing: I tend to make connections and write connective text pretty quickly. Heck, I write pretty quickly in general, when i set my mind to it. I started this post at 8:39 PM, and it's now 8:46 PM...

So, if I can finish making squares this weekend, I can probably give myself Monday-Wednesday to get the arranging and sewing done. Thursday can be editing day, and then I can deliver the quilt to DC on Friday.

Again, it may be too ambitious, but it's a plan. And it's 8:47 PM now.

Graduation Application is In

I turned in my application to walk at graduation in the middle of last week. It's funny that I did that, because I really didn't make much progress on the dissertation last week. However, I know deep down that regardless of WHEN the deadline for completion is set, I will finish SOMETHING. So, now there will be a tough push starting today through the end of next week to get the results chapter finished, but it'll happen. I may not sleep very much, but it'll happen. It's gotta happen.

I'm back in SCT this morning writing with a friend. I finally finished up the biggest, most important quilt square of them all, which is a big relief. Two more biggies to try and conquer this weekend....then I can weave the whole quilt together this week before turning it all in to DC. It's gonna suck, but it'll be done.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Home Stretch with this Results Chapter Thing

I had a great meeting with DC last Friday (I was in SCT for the day). She was just as excited as I am about the various things I'm finding with my study. More important, she encouraged me to start expressing my own views in terms of, um, "my" theory. Yep, it's mine. All mine. That was a little weird at first, but then again, the point of all of this is to create a theory, so I just need to get over the weirdness.

In the next five days I'll solidify whether or not I'll walk in graduation. I suspect I will, but I do need to make significant progress this week or else I will not make the 3/5 deadline to give DC the first draft of the fifth chapter. What's cool is that I'll start drafting the sixth (and LAST!) chapter after that deadline. Wow, that's pretty swell.

My perfectionist tendencies seem to be kept at bay for now. I'm even to the point where I'm writing paragraph after paragraph, and if I think they suck I literally write [THIS SUCKS] as a marker to go back and edit. A good friend heard an expression saying something like, "I'm just a decent writer, but I'm an excellent editor." I like that mantra.

I think that's similar to my attitude toward being "ready" to graduate. I figure I'm never really going to feel ready till I'm completely finished. But will I ever finish unless I feel I'm ready?? ACK- that's a mad cycle! Instead, I'm just plugging forward, setting hard deadlines and trying to stick to them.

I pay my auto insurance every six months, and I just paid us up through August of this year. What's funny is that the next time I replace those little insurance cards in August, it's very likely I will already have participated in graduation and will have my final defense date set. It's going to be a pretty wild six months. However, the six months prior to the end of both my BA and my MA were exactly like this, so this seems like the perfect time to finish.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Deadlines

I'm all for using extrinsic motivators as a short-term fix for getting something accomplished, quickly. The application to graduate is coming up very soon. I think I'm on track to make it in time, which is great. It's also a bit weird. Participating in commencement doesn't feel quite right since I'm not yet being finished. However, if this goes the same way as all of the other papers I've written, I suspect the end of this project will come more quickly than I anticipate. But then there's the "everything always takes longer" phenomenon, which I've encountered time and time again throughout this process. Bottom line: who the hell knows?

I think that if I keep up this pace, I'll at least have a decent draft of the rest of the study done before I would walk in May. Then I'd feel comfortable about walking. Maybe I'd have my defense date scheduled by that time as well. That'd be cool.

I've not yet decided if I'll participate in Commencement just yet, but at least I'm continuing to make decent progress. I still have another week to make good progress and make my final decision. Fortunately, DC is supportive my decision either way.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things that Go Bump in the Night

At about 2:45 AM today (yes, I was still awake!), the strangest thing happened. As a car drove by the house, I heard the engine roar, and then I heard a "Bump-Bumpity-Bump THUD." I scrambled to the window, and I saw that a car had stopped in front of our house. I had to stare at it for a few seconds and wrap my brain around what I saw: The two rear break lights were vertical...one on top of the other. Yep, the car had flipped onto its side, right in front of our house.

Chesterley, our home, is in a suburban-like subdivision (even though we're within the LSC city limits), and we're on the one through through street in the entire neighborhood, just about a mile long. There are no stop signs, and the road has numerous twists and turns. Tonight the road was extremely icy, as the private company that takes care of the roads in the winter apparently has yet to invest in salt and/or sand. Normally the speed limit is 30 MPH, but typically in the winter I keep it around 20 to prevent from sliding into one of my neighbor's mailboxes on all the ice.

I immediately wondered if the person inside was injured or dead. The Wife was awakened by the "Bump-Bumpity-Bump THUD" sound. She asked, "What was that?" My mind and heart were racing. All I could say was, "Car on side. Car on its side." Wife said, "Our car is on its side?" I finally took a deep breath and said, "A car has flipped over onto its side in front of our house." I hear a "holy SHIT," so I know she's then comprehended what I said.

I called 9-1-1:
"9-1-1 may I help you?" said a tired yet friendly, female voice who had probably been at work for a while on a busy Saturday night.
"Hi," I said, making my voice stay calm. "There is a car that has flipped onto its side in front of my house." I really couldn't believe what I was saying. I mean this kind of thing could happen on an Interstate during a snowstorm, but on our little windy street??
"What's your address?!" said her then excited voice, almost with the appearance of saying, Ooh...this'll be a fun one!

Wife and I both threw on heavier clothing, and I ventured outside toward the car. The neighborhood was completely quiet. I think we were the only ones who heard the crash. I walked toward the car, which I then realized was a little red Jeep Wrangler, and I tried to see if there was any movement. The weirdest thing was that there was no movement, and no sound at all, except for a bent windshield wiper that was slowly wiping the air, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

Way too eerie. Way too quiet. Way too little movement from the driver. I hoped she wasn't dead. I hope she hadn't just died right there in front of us. I hope the car wasn't going to explode in front of my house. Man it was cold. Ran inside.

By the time I shut the front door, two police cars had already pulled up from the north. Then another pulled up from the south. So Wife and I both went outside this time to watch, even though it was under 15 degrees. We heard the officers saying to the person inside, "OK honey, we're working on getting you out." and "Can you reach up and crank open the window?" They had to repeat the question several times. It was as if she didn't understand that the passenger seat was actually above her now instead of next to her, because she didn't appear to quite get that the car was flipped on its side. Maybe she was drunk, intoxicated, pissed, hosed, and wasted.

Once Wife and I realized the driver wasn't dead, and once a police officer thought she may have been drunk, intoxicated, pissed, hosed or wasted, we decided to go inside the house. My sympathy for the driver waned at this point, I will admit. At least she wasn't dead. At least she hadn't killed anyone else. We watched the whole extraction and towing experience from our living room window. Around 3:00 AM. A total of FIVE firetrucks proceeded to the scene, flashing lights and all, at least one ambulance, along with like three more police cars. Seemed like a bit much, but hey I'll admit it was good to see the quick reaction .

Bottom line: they sawed her out of the car through the passenger side (the side up in the air), and took her away in a stretcher. We watched a tow-truck driver upright the car and get it on his tow-truck. He even swept up the broken glass from the street. In just under one hour, the entire scene was cleaned up, and Chesterley is back to its regular state of quiet and not the eerie quiet.

A police officer called me a few minutes later to follow up with a couple of questions. He informed me the driver was "extremely intoxicated." And, she took out my neighbor's mailbox in the process.

No. Sympathy. Relieved no one died. Don't drink and drive.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moving along

I'm wearing my trendy new bifocals and am sitting back in the library trying to get more work done on the friggin results chapter. I may be a pound heavier, too. Oh well. It's been a long week. Am happy for the serenity of the library for a while.

More later.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weight Battle

If you'd rather not know about my weight gain and loss story, then simply don't read this post, Mom. :-)

I am a member of the online version of WeightWatchers (WW for short). In the fall of 2001 I lost 30 pounds. This was weight I gained during the time when Wife was pregnant with Moose. He was born in July, and in September (soon after 9/11, but with no strong connection), I hopped on the WW bandwagon. By the holidays of that year, I had dropped about 30 pounds, and I kept 25 of those 30 off the remainder of the academic year, until we moved to Indiana. So, I was 202 lbs when we moved to SCT in '02, down from 227 just a year earlier. I stand at 5'8", and according to WW I should be at 158 at the most.

I changed my lifestyle when we moved to Indiana (staying up late studying, sleeping later, etc.), and I went off of my weight maintenance routines. But I still do track my weight on Weightwatchers.com as much as I remember to do so. When life gets really busy or stressed, I tend not to check into the site, deal with depression shit, eat more/exercise less, and what a shocker I gain weight. Then a few months pass and I get my life back in order. I get more organized, less stress, less depression, and I stop eating like an idiot and I lose weight. I know exactly a) what causes it and b) how to get it under control. It's not easy for me, but I do know what it takes. It's just that sometimes I don't give a rat's ass, and other times I do.

A year ago I was getting into a decent exercise routine. I didn't really change my eating patterns, but since I was exercising I was at least fitting into my clothing well. The summer hit and I took off a chunk of time to work on TFD. It paid off: I got a lot done, but I stopped exercising and started eating. Then I hurt my shoulder on our vacation and I didn't go back to the gym for a while till that healed. October, November and December flew by with only one trip to the gym.

As a result, I'm now officially 11.5 pounds heavier than I was one year ago. Yesterday morning I was 224.5...almost up to the evil 227 of 2001. Now, I'm proud of the fact that I've never crept up to the 227 in about eight years, but this is getting too close for my comfort.

So, it's back on WW again, drinking lots of water, limiting sugar, keeping things in moderation. The last time I did this in full force, I was applying to doctoral programs. That worked well: I lost the 30 pounds and I got into everywhere I applied with assistantship offers at more than one location. Maybe getting back on WW again will help me keep the rest of my life organized to keep plugging away on TFD.

Ten Pages to PR1

Earlier this afternoon, I sent off about 10 pages from the results chapter to PR1. That's the local peer reviewer friend (see the case of characters in the column to the right).

That felt a little weird, because that was among the pages that were really easy to pull together earlier in the week. I'm interested to hear her thoughts on how this went. If she thinks I'm remotely on the right track, then it'll be some smooth sailing ahead. If not, well, then perhaps I'll have a better idea of what track to hop on in order finish up this puppy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another round of glasses

Age catches up with me. I ordered new these glasses this evening. Bifocals. My friend Rachel would call them "bifuckols," and I'd completely agree. I do think these frames look pretty darn cool, however, in spite of them giving me great age and wisdom. In addition, I admit every time I try the bifocals, the reduced strain on my eyes when reading things up close is really very nice. At least I shall age in up-t0-date, rather stylish, frames. They arrive in a week or so.

LMUU has a sweet supplemental vision benefit package that gives us nice discounts on eyeglasses, so I decided to replace my prescription sunglasses as well.

I'm excited about these puppies. My current sunglasses are several years old, as is the prescription in them. I guess I have become accustomed to driving in the sunlight and having things a tad blurry. Probably not the greatest idea. Hmm. These will be ready tomorrow, so if I decide to venture back to the big-ass mall, then I could pick them up at that time.

An unfortunate thing happened while we were there. It was about 8:00 PM, and a group of about five or six young adults...not sure how old...late teens/early 20s?...came in and spread around the store, looking at frames. Personally, going glasses shopping is not something I did on a Friday night with my friends before we had Moose; we only went tonight because it was convenient. The person helping me got visibly disturbed by their presence. I wasn't sure why at first, but I understood what was really happening a little too late. By the time the young adults left, they didn't purchase any glasses. Instead, they stole three frames. At least!

C'mon people: grow up. What are you gonna do with those frames anyhow? And what about the loss to the store? And what about others who may have wanted to purchase those legitimately?Finally, what did you just teach my son about your behavior? You should set a better example instead of working to bust up a decent society. Geez.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This seems too easy

I'm in the throes of my results chapter now, officially. I'm simply writing up the facts as I saw them in the study. It's a bit refreshing not to be attributing every other sentence to somebody else. I'm slowly getting accustomed to writing sentences starting with, "I found..." or "I viewed..." or "I heard...". Me me me, all about me. Guess I'm finally finding my own voice in this process.

So why did I feel like I was going to throw up yesterday when I got together with my writing group? I sounded like the worried Rose (Olympia Dukakis) in Moonstruck. I sat writing in the cafe, wringing my hands, groaning with worry, wondering what I'm missing. This seems too easy. I'm cranking out text, telling the story in my own words, placing quotes where appropriate, and it's easy? The chapter I thought was going to kick my ass for the past six months or more is easy? Are you fucking kidding me?

On second thought, it better be easy. I mean, I've been looking at the interviews, spinning my wheels about all this for YEARS at this point. I practically have these 14 interviews memorized. It shouldn't be a surprise that it's easy.

But it still makes me want to throw up.

So. I guess it's going well.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Results Chapter Structure


I am pleased to report that I've worked between 15 and 90 minutes on the TFD each day this week. It's progress. Yesterday wasn't great. I attempted several random queries of the database to see if I could get a good baseline of quotes to use when writing the sections. This didn't really work. It felt like I was pulling back a bow string ready to shoot an arrow right at a target, but I couldn't find the right arrow. It's like shooting blanks and expecting a target to get hit. It was useless. Pointless. Dumb. Horrible. I couldn't sleep last night as a result. That was fun.

Tonight was a different deal: I remembered that I did get quite a bit of writing done on this chapter last summer. Something during that process was the catalyst to put the writing aside for a while and work on recoding the phuquing interviews. So, I thought, why not go back into what I had actually written, refresh my memory of where things stood early in the fall, and then start to fill in the gaps with quotes and such from the data. Brilliant!

I wrote about 36 pages last summer. Thirteen of those comprise the chapter with participant descriptions. The other 23 were actual text for this beast of a results chapter. Wow...23? Didn't realize that. And fortunately, these are brief descriptions of the six major themes I found in the data...

...so I think I have my structure for how I'll finish the writeup. Cool! Light-bulb moment! Each of the six themes is comprised of about 3-4 codes. For now, I have a separate Word document for each code that I've summarized, and now I'm explaining its significance to the study and using quotes to support each idea. I think what I need to do first is to finish writing up the individual codes while adding quotes as evidence. Then, I need to weave together each code per its parent theme. Finally, I'll pull together all of the themes, somehow...hmm...not sure how. But I'll leap that hurdle when I get there.

Now I just need to plug away and write it all out of my head. This is supposed to be the toughest chapter, and I can certainly see why. But I think I've figured out, finally, where the hell I'm going with this. Maybe I'll sleep tonight.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Welcome to 2010

The mandatory week off last week went relatively well. I finished all but just one-half of the last fucking interview, which I intend to finish tonight.

I'm determined to work no less than one hour per day on this sucker for the indefinite future. Seven hours per week is better than what I achieved last semester, so we'll see.

It's going to be a late night, though, seeing it's 9:30 PM and I'm just getting started. This is typical, though, after a late dinner and Moose's bedtime routine. Oh well: sleep is an under-rated waste of time anyhow. :-) Glad I have a glass of fruit-of-the-vine in hand.

It's not really a new year's resolution, but I'm seriously considering pursuing better living through drugs. Not illegal ones, silly. Rather, the "get rid of the dissertation blues" kind. Or, as my buddy Jason puts it so well: happy pills. I'm generally not a big fan of using stuff that alters my body (beyond caffeine and alcohol in moderate amounts), but I figure these may be worth a shot at this point. I'm discussing all this with Jason on Friday and Gibsyn via e-mail when I can, and I'm certain both will offer good insights in their own ways.

Off to finish the last blasted interview.