Friday, February 29, 2008

Adieu briefly

First, some big news: Today, Ms. Prepared became the first person in my cohort to defend her thesis (and, of course, to pass)! Her defense went really well. So from now on we'll have to call her Dr. Prepared.

Tomorrow I will be leaving town for spring break. Details will be posted after I return.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

95% of you can stop reading right now, because the only ones who will find this entry remotely interesting are my college peeps.

In one of those random "I wonder ... let's go look it up on the internet!" moments, I was looking at the Greek Life page at Case. Some things have changed since our day:

Delta Upsilon has enough members to have a South Side house.

Now not only Delta Gamma and Phi Sigma Rho have chapters at Case, but so does Kappa Alpha Theta (installed last fall).

The largest sorority chapter is Phi Mu, with 85 members. KAT is the smallest because it is so new, and Phi Sigma Rho limits its members to engineers, but the third smallest chapter is Sigma Psi, with 59. All in all, there are 446 women in Panhellenic sororities. (Spring 1999, the largest chapter was 59, and there were a total of 218 Greek women.) Sigma Gamma Rho has a campus chapter (rather than a citywide one). Apparently there is also an Asian-American interest sorority called Omega Tau Zeta, not a part of Panhellenic.

Don't worry, though - not everything has changed. For example, Wes Schaub is still the director of Greek Life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wild, wild life

Not a goose
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
Let's start with the admission that, while I take a lot of pictures of the great out of doors, half the time I don't know what it is I'm taking. "That's a tree," I can confidently assert. "And that's an, um, a bird." OK, I'm exaggerating a little: I know an oak when I see it - as long as it still has leaves. I can tell a goose from a robin. But I'm no John Audubon.

Which means I had no idea what the bird shown here is. It was hanging out at the goose pond at Shelby Park. A little internet research suggests it may be a Muscovy duck, which doesn't seem nearly interesting enough. I mean, look at this guy. Can you see him with a bow around his neck, repeated around the border of your kitchen?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Out of my rut

I've been suffering from a case of unmotivationitis lately. The difficulty is distinguishing serious unhappiness from the natural vagaries of graduate student moods - because you need to know the root cause to treat it effectively. (If simply saying, "Hey! Work harder!" was effective, there wouldn't be a problem, after all, and graduate students would be marvelously efficient.) I think I figured out where my slackitude is coming from, so I'm partway to a cure. I also had a chat with my advisor today, and he was helpful, although not in ways that were entirely expected.

The biggest issue is that I'm making the transition from "doing stuff for other people on deadlines" and "having to do stuff on my own for long-term rewards." It's easy enough to get things done for classes or grant deadlines. It's harder to prioritize journal articles and research projects that are due whenever they're done. After all, the rewards (and penalties) for getting classwork done in a timely manner are pretty immediate. The rewards from getting a journal article submitted are more long-term and nebulous ... someday you will be considered for more jobs, tenure, respect, etc. As you can see, though, long-term doesn't mean unimportant! I think I may have come up with a strategy to help me get going again, and I threaten to keep you updated on it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A few links

Would anyone like to buy me The Bishop when it is finished?

Here is the answer to a question that has plagued many.

Another student in my program has a blog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I went to a thrift store in the neighborhood today, looking for retro Tupperware and random household goods, but instead found a book I should really read for my dissertation - at the low, low price of $1.49. Hooray for good deals.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I have a delightful cold, manifesting itself primarily as a sore throat and a mild sinus headache. As diseases go, it's not serious - better than the shot-proof flu that's going around - but I'm staying home to keep my germs to myself. Experience has taught me that a mild cold for me will attack most people with twice the vigor. (See, I'm thoughtful like that.) I've been sitting in bed today and catching up on reading that didn't get done during the weekend festivities.

Because of the cold, though, I have no brilliant thoughts to post. I used up what few brain cells are not under attack by virus to write this week's stratification paper. Not that I normally have brilliant thoughts to post, mind you - but under normal circumstances I could dredge up something to say about Step Up 2, brunch, or the peculiar ritual of PhD visit weekend. I got nothing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy V-Day

This upcoming weekend is PhD recruitment weekend. Tomorrow I'm picking some potential students at the airport and then attending the dinner. On Sunday, my practicum partner and I are giving a presentation on our research. In between, I'm going to brunch and seeing a movie. (I also had two invites to go caving and a chance to go to a roller derby. What is this - nothing at all happens one weekend, and the next everyone goes crazy?)

Of course, I also have some of that pesky homework, but not as much as this past week. For one thing, I had to lead class today. I was surprised to hear that lots of my classmates found this week's readings very boring - I had picked this week because I thought it was interesting. Well, mostly - reading Blau and Duncan can be incredibly dry. But there was some org theory brought in, which I always like. Apparently I was alone in that. I gave everyone chocolate, though, in honor of Valentine's Day. Grad students are theoretically above food bribes, being so much more sophisticated than undergraduates. I'd like to think it was my scintillating questioning that kept them awake - more likely it was the caffeine in the truffles.

Monday, February 11, 2008

People are going places

One of my grad school friends just got a pretty good job offer and is contemplating taking it. Another friend in between jobs, trying to figure out what to do with his life. One of our soon-to-be alums has starting working in a state policy job. Another has a more or less guaranteed job waiting for her upon completion. My sister is applying for internships for her third year of seminary. A friend in one of our masters programs is looking for a post-graduation job; others are looking for summer internships. And several PhD students I know are on the market, looking for faculty jobs. People are moving; people are getting married; people are having babies. People are getting divorced. People are buying houses.

I know some students take forever to get their PhDs - we're talking 8, 10 years, and not about people who are going part-time - and I can't imagine that. Maybe I'd feel differently if I had gone straight through school and leaving was a leap into the unknown. As it is, I'm starting to get an itch to move on. I'm not yet impatient, but I feel ready to start dissertating, to make progress under my own power. And that's conveniently where I'm at.

So tomorrow I'm meeting with my chair, to talk about my timetable for defending my proposal, some theoretical issues with my topic, and how to submit a conference proposal when the deadline is prior to any data collecting. And next year, it can be me moving places and getting jobs.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Conference timing

AERA finally posted the conference schedule. I was disappointed to see that my advisor and I are presenting at 12:50 on Monday - essentially, right at the beginning. This means I have to leave Sunday night rather than Monday morning in order to be there on time, which means an extra night in a hotel. And I suspect most attendees won't be there yet, either, meaning turnout will be low. But I guess someone has to present in that time slot - and better that it be our roundtable than our paper session.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

One of those days

I went into campus this morning with a specific project to work on. Trouble was, it took much less time than anticipated. I hadn't brought anything else to work on, at least anything of any urgency. I ended up doing some reading for a term paper, which wasn't exactly a waste of time, but it wasn't a high priority either. Then my afternoon class covered microsociology, which just isn't something that comes naturally to me. I love reading Erving Goffman, but as I learned in discourse analysis last semester, focusing on that level of detail is not my top skill. Afterwards, I met some peeps for happy hour before going to a club meeting. All in all, I didn't get much accomplished today.

Tomorrow is another day, right? Just like Scarlett O'Hara said.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

East Bank Greenway

Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
The East Bank Greenway is only 1/2 mile long, and it only connects to other paths on one end. It exists to "do something" with the chunk of land on the east bank of the Cumberland River that is orphaned between Titans Stadium, the Pedestrian Bridge, and the Woodland Street Bridge.

So they decided to put in a short trail and some Public Art. Although Nashville does not have a strong history of manufacturing and industry, it apparently has enough to inspire they (whoever they are) to give the park an Industrialism As Art theme. Gasworks Park it ain't. There is clearly labeled salvage art next to gussied up salvage next to freshly made art - next to genuine industrial refuge that has not been ironically placed, like the seat shown in the photo. (And there is a real, working industrial-era railroad track.) The site can't decide whether it's a memorial or a celebration. It doesn't feel deliberately polyvocal, just as if a city planner said, "Well, there is all this stuff there ... what about art on the cheap? And then we don't have to clean up all that crap."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Frick's Cave

Fricks Cave
Originally uploaded by JLAW'S PICS
This picture, taken by John, is from our caving trip Saturday. Frick's Cave is home to an endangered species of bat and is only open to visitors once a year (at a time when the bats have migrated). It's a nice cave. It's a little unusual to be in a cave with so many other cavers at one time; people come from several states to see it when it's open.

Friday, February 1, 2008


I turned in my Institutional Review Board application and mailed off the grant application today. Hooray! For the first time in quite a while, I feel like there isn't any immediate deadline hanging over my head. Before these deadlines, it was comps - before that, fall class papers - before that, another grant and AERA conference presentations.

I'm sure soon enough I'll feel pressure again. I need to defend my proposal in a month or two, write term papers for this semester, and submit conference presentations to ASHE. And without specific deadlines, I have to revise some papers for journal submissions. For the moment, though, I'll enjoy the feeling.

I'm even taking off tomorrow to go caving. Nothing academic, all day long!