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


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 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.