Friday, August 31, 2007

I now own stuff

Yay, I went shopping today. I was shocked that I was able to find some dresses, because I can never get any to fit me, but it seems that some of the looser retro cuts that are in make it easier. Also, I have some other new stuff. (Not that you'll necessarily be able to tell - who will notice a new pair of simple black pants?) The only piece I'm not sure about is this sweater. It's cute on me, but I got it in navy, and most of my stuff is black. So yeah, I could wear it with a gray skirt, but it needs a shirt under it, and shoes. No way I'll find navy to match, right? Would it be OK with jeans? Or I could exchange it for black - they didn't have my size in black at the Target I was at, and the other colors were no good.

Life is hard.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Getting into the semester

I've now been to three of my classes - the final one doesn't meet until Tuesday. Two of the classes seem fantastic, and the third one seems like it will be good, although it was harder to get a read on.

Tomorrow is payday, and I'm going shopping. Mostly, I'm buying clothes, but I also have to stop by campus and get a few books from the bookstore. I tried ordering them from Amazon last night. While they had advertisements all over the place for two-day shipping if you bought enough texts - and I would have paid for it anyway, since it's still cheaper than the bookstore - they apparently didn't really mean it. The earliest possible shipping date shown at checkout was Sept. 10 - for books that were in-stock. Of course, I can't wait two weeks when reading is assigned for next week. I don't know what Amazon's problem is, but clearly they are having fulfillment problems at the moment. It seems like every few years Amazon will go through a glitchy phase before returning to their usual prompt customer service. Grr.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You never forget your first

Today I got my first journal rejection.

I had expected to be rejected (what are the chances of me gettiing it right out of the gate?) and to feel bad about it. After all, I felt down after receiving my first conference rejection, and I haven't developed a completely tough hide of academic armor yet.

The manuscript was rejected, though, for being outside of the journal's scope. I found that I didn't feel bad after all, probably since it wasn't being evaluated on its own merits.

Perhaps I ought to feel goofy for sending it to the "wrong" place, but in my defense this is a little outside of my usual area. I submitted it to this journal on the advice of a faculty member, and I did read up on back issues. So, OK, now I know. And now that I have a rejection, I have nowhere to go but up.

Well, unless I submit the article to The Journal of Rocket Science or Polymer Chain Monthly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It begins again

Classes start tomorrow. It's going to feel odd this semester to not be in in classes with some of my cohort. Some are all done with classes, and others are electing different classes than I am. Unless their offices are in my building, I could go weeks without seeing them.

My schedule includes a higher ed seminar, classical sociological theory, organization theory (just one credit), and discourse analysis. The only one that's actually in my department is the higher ed seminar.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No mercy

That's it. I couldn't take it any more. My wardrobe had devolved into an ungodly mess and had to be stopped. So I stopped it.

I went through and and pulled out the clothes that had to go to Goodwill; the t-shirts that were being demoted to gymwear; and the stuff that had hit bottom and was going out with the trash. Then I set aside the clothes that weren't appropriate for school (fancy dresses, suits, cute halter tops, etc.) and the stuff that will expire come Labor Day. Also, sadly, I set aside the stuff that is too small. What did that leave me?

Well, for one thing, two pair of pants. One of which is bright red, so it's not like I can wear them that often, and the other of which I've owned since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Clearly, a strategic plan is needed here. Expect to see me in quite a bit of white this week, as I bid adieu to these items for the season. Next Friday, though, is a very special day for me - I get paid. Forget rent, I'm going shopping. (Just joking, landlord! I've already written the check.)

It's time for back-to-school shopping.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A hodgepodge of things to read

Lesboprof offers job-hunting tips. (Note: She mentions conference interviews, but we don't really do those in my field.)

Summer jobs are going the way of the dodo bird - at least for the upper half of the income distribution.

The plastic bags will kill us all.

Apparently, if I dig a hole in my backyard, I won't end up in China. Instead, I'll end up in the Indian Ocean, far offshore from Western Australia. That's a scenario never considered in children's literature.

Another new way to rank grad programs.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Long range planning

In education, you can do one of three things with your dissertation after finishing:
  1. Nothing. This is what most grads do, especially if they aren't aiming for jobs in research or academia.
  2. Turn it in to an article, or perhaps more than one article. Most students going into academia do this.
  3. Turn it into a book. This depends on your specialty; historians and sociologists of education are more likely to produce books than economists and political scientists.

I'm thinking of going down the book road, so I'm reading From Dissertation to Book. You could argue it's a little early to be worrying about that, but I think knowing the final destination makes the journey easier. If I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail, I want to know that Katahdin, Maine is the endpoint and that I have 2200 miles to go before I get there. It's much better than knowing I'll reach New Jersey at some point and then have decide what to do next. (Then again, I am almost freakish about planning.) Seeing the road ahead helps me break it down into little journeys.

Personality test

My personalDNA Report

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I am running out of shelf space. While I acquire new pleasure reading from time to time, I also tend to weed through that stuff, so it's not my fiction that's out of control. It's all the books we have to buy for school. This semester I have to purchase 12 books, plus my classes will generate a few three-ring binders of notes. Repeat this four more times, and you have one bookcase that is crammed to the gills.

Now this problem will hopefully solve itself in two years, when I get a nice faculty office somewhere, and I can put all of those books in there to give me a head start on looking smart. In the meantime, though, I figured I'd have to buy another bookcase. Unfortunately, it looks like Ikea doesn't sell my bookcases any more - at least they're not on the website. (Hey, does anyone in Nashville randomly wish to get rid of a blue with birch trim Robin bookcase?) It also doesn't sell the wall shelf that matches it. Sigh. I can't put up one random case that doesn't match the rest. I guess I could get a wall-mount shelf to put over my desk - as long as it is birch (laminate), it would look alright. But I don't know much about how to install one so that it can hold any amount of weight.


The record heat and drought in Tennessee continue. We're now 13 inches behind our annual rainfall. This week, some trees started losing their leaves. It's very strange to have autumn crunching underfoot when it's 106 degrees out. Apparently we're waiting for a hurricane to send us rain, never mind the poor folks who have to have the hurricane. I wonder how much can be salvaged agriculturally at this point, between the spring freeze and the drought.


I think I have wasps nesting around my front door.


When I woke up this morning, I was thinking of all the things I should have put in the comprehensive exam essay for politics of education. I quickly shut that thought train down. It's a big relief to have the exams behind me, but I can't really relax until I hear that I passed.


Comps finished today, so afterwards my cohort went out for lunch. And as a reward for surviving, I spent the afternoon finishing Against the Day. It was completely awesome - everything the Baroque Cycle tried to be but failed. (And that makes Pynchon's book a bargain - it clocks in at 1085 pages, but that's nothing to Stephenson's 2700.) Then this evening I went to a goodbye gathering for a student who is following his advisor to another institution.

So it's been a long day, and now I'm going to bed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The state policy ragtime

Oh why do states do the - things that they do
(when they do)
Is it entrepreneurs - making things diffuse
(what they do)
That make some leaders - and one the caboose!
(why they do)
Traditionalist - or moralist
(when they do)
Elitist - or pluralist
(what they do)
Check with a - policy analyst
(why they do)
Just not a - systems theorist!

Oh they do they do they do
Punc - tu - a - ted
(oh they do they do they do)
Streams and windows and
An agenda!
(oh they do they do they do)
Is your legislature - professionalized?
Is your governor - empowerized?
No matter, your state will do
The thing all states do -
when they do they things they dooooo
(when they do them!)

(Why, yes, I have been reading Pynchon lately. Why do you ask?)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Seen on the Stones River Greenway a little bit east of here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

High anxiety

Technically I am present and accounted for, but in reality I'm in hiding right now. Comprehensive exams start Wednesday, so I'm holed up studying. My big indulgence for the weekend is going to the gym. This isn't really an indulgence so much as a necessity in order to keep from turning into a rutabega. (I like rutabegas but don't consider them aspirational peers.) I even skipped the Tomato Art Festival, which was today, despite being very sorry I was out of town for it last year. Maybe next year will be the big year.

Meanwhile, my head feels like it is filled with a floating collection of trivia. Qualities of good estimators? They're unbiased, consistent, efficient, and asymptotically normal. Who called political systems traditionalist, moralist, or individualist? Elazar. What are Boyer's four domains of scholarship? Discovery, integration, engagement/application, and teaching. Somehow, these fragments have to be reassembled into coherent wholes for the exam - or at least most of it; the methods section is a series of questions rather than one big essay.

So if you've sent me an email and I haven't gotten back to you, I promise, I will, but you might have to wait until after the knowledge regurgitation is over.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More travel

My parents picked me up in Trout Lake after the hike and we spent a little time in the Hood River area. We spent a good chunk of one day looking first for a bird sanctuary (which we couldn't find) and then a wildlife preserve (which we couldn't find the viewing area at). About the only wildlife we did see were squirrels. Not to pick on squirrels, but I can see dozens of fine specimans on campus every day. Well, most days. I think they're hiding from the heat now: it was 100 degrees when I arrived in Nashville - at 7 p.m. Anyway, we did see some lovely scenery; this picture is a little south of Klickitat in Washington.

Then we headed north to Sequim to visit my aunt and uncle. One of the things we did was take a very short hike up at Deer Park, which is part of Olympic National Park. It's no doubt a very lovely view when the weather is sunny. However, despite being in the "rain shadow" (and on the "Rainshadow Trail," even), it was foggy. Supposedly, if you look north you can see the ocean and Vancouver Island; if you look south, you can see a variety of Olympic peaks. In this photo, you can see our car.

I feel as though I should have some Hood River or Sequim pics (at least someone kite boarding), but the only urban pic I have is this one from a downtown basement window in Hood River. Hm ... is this the bird sanctuary?

On top of a mountain

I'm back! After being away for 10 days, I'm ready to buckle down and study for comps, which start in (eek!) a week.

The vacation started with friends in the Seattle area. We spent a day bumming around, and the next day we drove down to Mount Saint Helens. We drove in via the road that heads east to the north side of the mountain. When the volcano erupted in 1980, everything flowed down the north side, so from the observatory we stopped at there was a good view inside the volcano. Then we headed around to the south side of the mountain to camp out at Climber's Bivouac. This primitive campsite is right at the base of the typical route up Mount Saint Helens.

On Thursday we set out to climb the mountain. The first two miles are easy, through gentle forest, but after that you hit a boulder field. Eventually, the boulder field ends - about the time the oxygen gets thinner. But you start to wish the field was back because what's next is a loose slope of ash. Once you reach the top, though, and look down into the caldera, it's pretty cool.

After Mount Saint Helens, my parents picked me up and we spent a brief time in the vicinity of Hood River. Then we headed up to Sequim to visit my aunt and uncle. I'll post more about this in the next couple of days, in between trying to staying focused on comps.