Friday, April 29, 2011

First Competition Back

Tomorrow, I will dance in my first post data collection folk dancing competition.  I'm excited as it's my hometown competition, the one that got me into this dancing seventeen years ago, but at the same time, a little worried because I strained my calf muscle right after returning from baladelba7th and it's been acting up ever since, so I'm not actually sure I can make it through all the dances.  I did go to the doctor, but since I'm back in University Town, I have to go to University Clinic, which tells me helpful things like "your calf muscle hurts because you use your calf to jump" and prescribes lots of painkillers and muscle relaxers (although I did finally convince them to prescribe physical therapy too, which I will start next week).  It figures that when I finally beat my achilles injury, I hurt my calf, just when I have the opportunity to start dancing again.  Ah well.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Week of Decisions

Yesterday, I got a revise and resubmit from a top journal in my field, which is exciting.  Although it is difficult to address reviewer comments when one says X is awesome, Y is weak, and the other says Y is excellent, X has no place in this article.  Hmmmm.  Today, I got rejected from a not-so-good conference that I've always been accepted at before, which is highly annoying because I think the difference was that I submitted as a part of a panel, not a paper, and I was a little skeptical about the panel thing.  I also had an interview for a really cool fellowship that will help my research and teaching next year, and they will be deciding by the end of the week.  So many decisions in one week!

Transcription plods along.  Then 10/10 rule is working, but it is so slow.  Unpacking is torture.  Why weren't ebooks invented earlier? I have so many books . . . and of course I still want more.  Luckily, this time I was smart enough to move into the good public library district though.

I am supposed to be making a dissertation timeline in order to finish next year.  I am not sure what this entails exactly, but I think it means I need to stop spending time on the internet and spend it writing.  I think it would also be helpful to blog on my dissertation, but that would make me quite identifiable, as I am pretty much the only person who studies this topic in this way.  Ah, more decisions!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Practical Program

Yesterday, I went to the annual find a job workshop that my department puts on.  They started this my second year in the program, and the how to find a job part starts with things to do your first year in graduate school, and finishes with advice on how to negotiate your offer.  It's pretty comprehensive, and something that I quite honestly took for granted until I met students from other schools on the job market who are not in such a practical program.  There was nothing in the talk you couldn't get from talking to candidates/hirers (or reading academic blogs) but it's nice to feel like the program thinks this is important information as well.

There are other useful things my program does as well.  In one of my classes I had to write a teaching philosophy, in another a grant application.  Both instructors said that one reason we had to do this was that it would be helpful in the future.  I've used my teaching philosophy to apply for summer jobs, and my grant application was the one that got me the fellowship that funded my dissertation (well, as least until they totally screwed me over).

Instead of comprehensive exams, we write two papers, which are supposed to be of publishable quality, and not necessarily related to our dissertation topic (usually one is, one isn't).  When we submit them to two faculty readers, we have to state the journal we intend to submit them to afterwards.  Like a journal, the faculty readers can give reject, revise and resubmit, or accept.  Once the faculty approve, we submit to the actual journal (or they sometimes recommend another journal).  All in all, this has helped a lot of us (myself included, the paper I just published was my first one of these papers, and the second one is submitted with fingers crossed) get published before we go on the job market.

Now, I know plenty of people in more traditional programs who get grants, publications, and jobs without this sort of help.  However, I really appreciate the support I get from my program, because I think that even if I might have done these things otherwise, the system has helped me a lot.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Today, my first publication of my PhD career went live in a small journal in my field.  This is quite exciting, as my goal was to go on the job market with an academic publication in my field, and I'm five months early.  Leleleleleleleeeeeeeee!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Transcription and Taxes

Yup, it's been an exciting weekend so far.  The good news is that I am done with the taxes, and I think (isa) I have hit upon a method that will actually allow me to transcribe.  It is the ten-minute timer rule, which shouldn't be anything new to anyone who reads anything about productivity.  Basically, I set a timer for ten minutes, transcribe, then set the timer again and do something else for ten minutes.  The key to this method is that I have to actually do something else for the other ten minutes--I've tried things like this before, trying to transcribe for half and hour and then take a ten minute break, or doing two ten minute sessions back to back, and I always burn out.  Now, while it seems like ten minutes hardly makes a dent in the amount of data I have to transcribe, I have to remind myself that slow and steady wins the race.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Packing, Unpacking

My whirlwhind research finishing trip back to baladelba7th is over, so I'm back in Dull University Town until the end of May.  Wa7shani ya baladelba7th already!

So, for the fourth time in two months I'm packing and unpacking.  Now, having moved a lot over the last twelve years, I am pretty good at this.  But, it's just so dreadful, and boring, even when listening to my favorite podcast and admiring how cute and annoying my cats are when they sit on everything I'm trying to pack and unpack.  Worst of all, in a month and a half I have to pack it all up again for my summer job.  Then, I'll be packing it all up again in a year if I finish my dissertation as planned.

Of course, it is an excellent way to procrastinate on that transcription problem :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Data Collection KhalaaaaS!

Amazingly, I got every single research done I wanted in baladelba7th.  This is partially luck, but also the fact that this particular group of participants is awesome and cooperative.  So now, I am officially done with data collection and on to writing.  I'm not sure how to feel.  On the one hand, I like the idea of it just being me and my data, not having to rely on people, or be social, which is difficult for me but a necessary part of data collection.  On the other hand, this is kind of the scary part, the yikes this is the last step before I get my phD part.  So far, there are two major things that I find slightly scary about the writing process:

1) I have so much data to analyze and transcription is so boring.  My advisor has warned me about data overload, and I'm starting to think she has a point.

2) There is very little research that relates directly to my field/topic, but a lot that kind of has something to do with it if you want to approach it from this framework or that one.  I've been reading about scholarly bases, but I'm still really not sure how to navigate this, especially since a lot of it is in disciplines other than mine, in which I have little or no formal training.

So, ideas, links, khawatir of any sort for the writing stage?

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Today's my first day back in medinatelba7r, where my favorite swanky seaside cafe has free Internet and excellent people watching. In some ways, things seem very normal. Then I notice that there are no tourists and there is a contingent of army guards replacing the usual ones. I'm glad to be back though, and I got some excellent interviews.

It's difficult to cram all of the activities I thought I would have four months to do into two weeks, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job. It' a lot of running around though, which is exhausting. Speaking of which I have to run to the train, so that's it for now!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

El 3awda

It's good to be back.  There are many things that annoy me in baladelba7th (like the constant mozza 3asal etc) but I did miss it, particularly after being wrongly forced to leave under terms that were not mine at all.  In some ways, things seem exactly as they were when I left. In other ways, not at all: people are discussing politics left and right, and every song on the radio is a revolutionary anthem of some sort.  

I've missed loghatelba7th too.  When I'm out of baladelba7th, I read things in loghatelba7th and watch movies etc, but it's just not as fun as eavesdropping on other people's conversations (which is one case in which it is excellent that people assume that I couldn't possibly speak loghatelba7th).  Especially now that those conversations are about something other than football and children.  

Khawatir fii a66ayaara

I think a lot while traveling, partially because I like making up stories about the strangers a round me, and partially because I often use the time I'm stuck in the airplane to think about and analyze my own life, and plan the things I want to do.  So what am I thinking now on the plane?

The guy sitting next to me is headed to visit his German grandmother for a two week vacation, during which time he also hopes to promote and test out the travel app he's developing in the hopes of being able to quit his sales job and well, you know, travel to "discover himself".  Instead he will fall in love with his co-worker who has had a secret crush on him for years after his grandmother points out her merits to him.  

 I love love love my iPad.  It does almost everything I could ask of it (except transcription and serious data analysis) and yet fits in my bag/under my arm like a book, so I can take it everywhere.  I thought I did a lot of reading before, but now I can read anything (books, PDFs, blogs, internet) anywhere, even in loghatelba7th, which was the downfall of my kindle.  Not to mention my flashcard app, annotating what I read, listening to music and podcasts, and watching movies.  Or simple note which lets me keep track of my random khawatir and field notes.  Or plaintext, which jut let me write a fellowship essay without having to pull out my computer.  Now granted, I could probably do all of this on a netbook of some sort, but the touch table format is pretty nice.  It sort of feels like I'm underlining and highlighting by hand, which is something that I do miss a bout digital formats, although I'm willing to give it up for the ease of digital searching.  

I'm not sure how much actual research I'm going to accomplish in baladelba7th, but I do intend to have fun.  

I've been flying Lufthansa through Germany a lot recently, and the flight attendants always address me in German, or if I'm reading in English, a mix of German and English.  I have some German ancestry, but I don't really resemble that side of the family, nor do I speak any German.  It's quite the contrast to baladelba7th where no one ever addresses me in loghatelba7th unless I speak first.  

No Net

I no longer have Internet in my apartment and find I have to use my limited Internet time for research rather than blogging. But I have minutes left on my current card, so let's see how many of the offline posts I've written I can get up!