onefixedstar: (academic)
Winter is slowly returning here, after the unseasonably warm weather we returned to last week. We got a little snow on Sunday, and a little more yesterday--enough to lightly coat the ground, but not enough to create huge piles of snow and slush to wade through. The perfect amount, in other words. January and February are always the time when I really feel the length of winter; there's nothing to do but hunker down against the cold and endure. But it's not too bad right now.

I decided to take on a second TA job this term. I got through last term on just one, but only because I had savings from the previous year, and those are pretty well depleted. The new job is for a Soc of Work course, which is an area I've never studied. I'll have to do a bit of catching up, but hopefully it will be interesting. I've been asked to attend class since I don't know the field, but that will have to wait another week as this week and next, I'm guest lecturing a course on the mass media at the Scarborough campus. That particular course has proven to be a bit of a bad luck course--the original instructor went on sick leave at the beginning of the term, and the replacement instructor had to head home to Europe because of a death in the family. Happily, my only bad luck has been not being able to show my slides during the first lecture because I couldn't get the key to open the computer cabinet. (Happily, I don't believe in bad luck, and I do believe in coincidence.)

I may also have some RA work coming my way this term; it doesn't pay as well as TA work, but the experience can be useful. I may get a chance to edit a book coming from conference proceedings, but that isn't certain yet. I may also get to help with another book, though nothing that would get my name on it. It will be a bit more of a challenge to carve out space to work on my dissertation and my own publications, but maybe being busy will force me to be more efficient, something I usually only accomplish in short spurts, right before deadlines.

A night out

Aug. 6th, 2007 10:34 pm
onefixedstar: (mystery)
Six weeks since my last update...I'm turning into a bad LJer. I'm going to blame my lack of presence on running up against program deadlines. I hit the summer and suddenly realized that I had four months to study for and write my second comprehensive exam, and prepare my proposal. My own fault, for dithering and delaying on a topic (which in turn delayed my comp area was supposed to be related to my thesis topic). I ended up picking a very broad comp area (culture) that I thought related to the general topics I was interested in and that I already knew fairly well from my TA work and running with it. I managed to prepare for it in about half the recommended minimum time, at the rate of one or two books or 5+ articles per day most days. And now that's over and done with, and I'm working on my proposal and changing my research question every other day as I read further in the literature and then go back to the available data. I came up with a new topic today...I'll see if it sticks. (I ended getting a two month extension on the proposal, so I now have until October 31st to finish. I'm aiming for mid-September, though, as I'm tired of having it hang over me.)

With the comp out of the way, I've been going out a little more. On Thursday, B and I went to the new Annex BBQ restaurant, Cluck, Grunt, and Low, where we had a rather unusual experience. They'd been getting good reviews, and the place was packed when we got there. Rather than wait for a table, we opted to sit side-by-side at the counter, facing out onto Bloor Street through a large open window. B ordered ice tea in place of the sweet tea we'd been hoping for, and sat drinking it while we waited for our ribs. A few minutes after it arrived, with scarcely more than a sip gone, a man passing by on the street reached through the window, grabbed the drink off of the table with a grunt, and kept on walking. The man walking behind him paused, looked at us incredulously, and asked if that had really happened, to which we could only shrug and laugh. What else can you do, really? The dry rub ribs were generally good (though the BBQ sauce could have been smokier), and the server replaced our iced tea for free once we convinced her that it really had been stolen, and we'll definitely be back at some point to try the pulled pork. B, Southern boy that he is, has been lamenting the lack of good Southern food for a while, so it's nice that something opened in the neighbourhood.

Links

May. 4th, 2006 06:27 pm
onefixedstar: (mystery)
I've been rather negligent about updating my journal for...well, the past few months, at least. Rather than try to actually write up a proper, essay-style post, I'm going to post a list of facts instead. I may even try to relate them.

1. I've decided to try to finish my theory comp before B's family comes to visit in June. It's not looking terribly good right now, but I'm trying to remain optimistic. (Not looking terribly good = haven't read one word in three days.)

2. Even if I get my comp done, I'm not sure I'll be able to go to Ottawa with them (if that's where they end up going) because I have agreed to TA for 101 yet again this summer. I'll probably end up in a tutorial position, which is fine--better than marking in many ways--but it ties me to the city for 3+ months since I'll have to be here every Monday and Wednesday evening.

3. That's all assuming the funding for the position comes through.

4. It probably will, because the Undergrad Chair had a great deal of trouble finding someone to teach 101 this summer, and one of the incentives she ended up offering was extra TA support.

5. On the plus side, a return to Wednesday night tutorials could also mean a return of Quesadilla Night.

6. I need a TA position, because it looks like my RA job is pretty much over, apart from the possibility of being called in for occasional work. Our last meeting was interesting--it was supposed to be a wrap-up meeting as most of the team is no longer being paid (they were on salary for the term), and yet somehow it ended with all of us being assigned more work: collect more email addresses, write a cover letter, follow up with more analysis...

7. I've recently started watching "House." The plot structure is terribly predictable, but the characters are entertaining, and I think I may try to catch up on it this summer. As long as it's not airing on Monday or Wednesday nights.

8. Something else I'd like to do this summer is starting reading recent issues of the top journals, to get a sense of what's being done in the field, and to seek inspiration for a dissertation topic, because it's getting kind of ridiculous that I don't have one. (I did, but then the person I came here to work with said he didn't have time to be my primary advisor, and the person he sent me to instead said it wasn't a topic he felt he could properly supervisor. I could find a new advisor, but I really like the person I was sent to and think he'd make a good advisor, so I've decided to find a new topic instead.)

9. My lack of dissertation topic is one of my main reasons for not wanting to attend the department potluck tomorrow: I don't want to explain to the faculty who are there why I don't know what I'm doing. Roommate is organizing it, so she's really pushing me to go, but I may refuse anyway. I haven't committed to bringing anything, and we're holding a houseparty here for the graduate students after the potluck, so I won't be completely left out.

10. I'm getting small red dots all over my screen. They show up in multiple programs, on white backgrounds, but they aren't always there. I'm not sure what's causing them, but they have me somewhat concerned.

11. I wonder when they're going to turn on the a/c in my building.
onefixedstar: (sandmanweber)
According to today's Ottawa Citizen, McGill professor Brian Alters had his proposal to study of how the growing belief in intelligent design in the U.S. is carrying over into Canada rejected by SSHRC in part because he didn't provide sufficient justification that evolution, rather than intelligent design, was correct.

A section of SSHRC's letter quoted in the article:
"The committee found that the candidates were qualified. However, it judged the proposal did not adequately substantiate the premise that the popularizing of Intelligent Design Theory had detrimental effects on Canadian students, teachers, parents and policymakers. Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct. It was not convinced, therefore, that research based on these assumptions would yield objective results. In addition, the committee found that the research plans were insufficiently elaborated to allow for an informed evaluation of their merit. In view of its reservations the committee recommended that no award be made."

Now I have no idea whether this proposal merited funding in relation to the many other proposals submitted by other academics (although the outcome certainly suggests that someone ought to study it), but these reasons should absolutely not have appeared in anything coming out of SSHRC.
onefixedstar: (academic)
I was invigilating a first year exam today. It was in one of those lecture halls that have tightly packed seats with little pull up desks, and so we made the students leave their bags at the front of the room. We ran into problems when two students protested that they didn't want to leave their laptops at the front of the room. Eventually they did, and we promised to keep an eye on them, and nothing bad happened. But I can see this becoming an increasing problem as more and more students bring laptops to school, and I'm not sure what to do about it.
onefixedstar: (sandmanweber)
Now that I've really started paying attention, I'm noticing that most of what I say about my daily experiences in graduate school is negative. I don't think that's a good thing, so I'm going to do two things. First, I'm going to try to spin events more positively. Second, I'm going to start paying attention to whether I'm really unhappy here, and figure out what that may mean.

(It may partly be due to the marking; I don't think many people care for that. I want to see if negative feelings remain even after I try to spin things more positively, and after I start reading for my comp, since in the past reading theory has tended to be very satisfying for me.)
onefixedstar: (sandmanweber)
Tonight was Networks Discussion Night II. Three of the invited members couldn't be there, leaving only five of us to discuss. It was a bit small, but as I'm terribly fond of all of the people who did make it, I didn't mind. (I don't dislike the absentees, I just don't know them as well.) We talked a bit about isolation, and the recent discovery that mean and median size of American core discussion groups seem to have shrunk a little over the past twenty years, leaving the U.S. with an unfortunate number of people who apparently don't talk to anyone. Lots of debate about why the change and whether people are feeling unfilled and where they're going instead and whether it might apply to Canada too. It was a short meeting too, which was nice. Tomorrow, I have a long RA meeting and an almost-as-long student government meeting, Wednesday a TA meeting, and then I'm done! Well, apart from all of the work I haven't been able to do over the past 2 1/2 weeks while I've been in meetings and job talks.

In other news, as part of my only remaining hobby, I'd like to try making potato and leek soup this weekend. Anyone have any good recipes?

Horror

Jul. 26th, 2005 02:23 am
onefixedstar: (academic)
I realized tonight that many of the students beginning university in September will be exactly ten years younger than me. Ten years. The children of the eighties are almost through; soon we'll be seeing kids born in the nineties.

In related news, September will mark the beginning of my tenth straight year of postsecondary studies. A friend from my cohort is thinking of dropping out of the program; she's tired of having no money, particularly when she already has the necessary training for teaching primary school, a job that she enjoys. I can't blame her.

Ten years.

What am I doing with my life?

*pause*

Okay, back to what I hope will be my last night on this report.
onefixedstar: (academic)
While prepping for my Soc 101 tutorial, I noticed that the author of the first reading in the supplementary reader seems to have a rather strongly negative attitude towards qualitative research. "Okay," I thought, "this isn't the attitude I'd present to first year students, but I'm sure future articles will balance it out." I'm still waiting for that future article. The rest of the articles have all taken one of two positions: they ignore qualitative research, or they talk about it as a good preliminary technique that's useful for identifying the variables you're going to study once you get down to the serious, quantitative work. So far, there's not a single article that treats qualitative research as a legitimate enterprise unto itself. I'm disappointed, but not terribly surprised. The qualitative-quantitative divide remains a major one in sociology, driving otherwise reasonable people to do completely idiotic things like quit their job upon the passage of a proposal that enabled Ph.D. students to include a qualitative section on their methodology comprehensives. At this year's Annual Meeting of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association, the discussant for the "Future of Anglo-Canadian Sociology" suggested that the meeting really ought to divide the panels by paradigm rather than substantive topic, on the grounds, one imagines, that people would be more likely to attend panels if they knew they wouldn't be subjected to a conflicting ontological position. My current school falls even more heavily on the quant side of the spectrum that my previous school (the one from which those foolish faculty departed so as not to have to bear graduating doctoral students with a knowledge of both qual and quant), and so I suppose it's only to be expected that the textbooks we use would parrot that message.

Up with numbers, down with Verstehen!

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