Showing posts from December, 2018

Dissertation Journey: Am I Feeling It or Failing It

So while the last approach was a bit more about understanding the conundrum of contemplating failure, this post is more a grab bag of thoughts and considerations about where I am.  Consider this all the things great and small that came across my mind in December and early January as I grappled with completing the qualifying paper.  Just to forewarn you--this is a bit of a rambling mix--but one I think worthy of sharing in the sense that it might help others normalize their experience while going through the qualifying paper process.

I can still feel my heart beat a wee bit faster as I think about the weeks of trying to get it all done.  It felt like a constant pressure to get through the research and turn it into something coherent.  Even at my calmest moment, there was always something in my head ticking like a clock about the quickly approaching deadline.

Many times, I found myself doubtful about my ability to do this.  There was too much research, too little time, and …

Review: Pulp

Pulp by Charles Bukowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Bukowski book that I've read and it is fabulous. I've been on a bit of neo-noir of late and this little bundle of pages was fantastic. If you are a fan of noir and hard-boil detectives, but can appreciate a full-on parody, then you need to check this book out. The story follows Nicky Belane, a hard-boiled, cheap-charging, smart-alec detective as he tries to solve several different cases, each of which is more ridiculous than the next. Bukowski is great both at channeling the hard and tight language of the hard-boiled detective novel while simultaneously mocking it for pages on end. It was as funny as it was in holding my attention to keep wondering where the story was headed.

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This wo…

PhD Chronicles: Doing the Work, But Anticipating Failure

What should I be doing right now?  Plowing through the (digital) mountainous pile of articles and books that I have that I need to transform into my literature review or what the program labels a Qualifying Paper.  But what am I doing instead?  Writing this blog post.  That's not entirely true.  I'm throwing down my initial thoughts and ideas so that I have them in the moment.  I need to exorcise them so that I can get back to that mountain of research and then I'll come back to this later.  A lot of my posts during the last month or so of the writing the Qualifying Paper(QP) are going to be like this. Idea dump, return to work, come back later. It's the only way to function.  

As said, I'm in the midst of trying to do the work.  "Do your job" as they say.  It's a tough place to be in right now.  As I look back, I realize I didn't do the work that I needed to get done early in say, September, October, and even part of November, and so I've felt…

Review: The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum

The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum by Stanley G. Weinbaum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weinbaum has come up on my radar a couple times over the years, often described as an early light in sci-fi, extinguished all too soon. This collection has most of his popular works (maybe all of them?) since he was only active a few years before passing away. The anthology is a nifty collection of stories from the 1930s that seem more forward-looking than others of the time. The writing is solid--not amazing, but Weinbaum can tell a tale and create a realistic future science-fiction world at that. The tales are largely about exploration and establishing life on Venus, Mars, and moons of Jupiter, including tales of first encounters, hazardous environments, and space bandits. Other stories raise questions about time travel and the like. It's a broad range of what we think of when we think of science-fiction. The order of the stories collected is unclear because some stories are clearly connected, featuring…

Review: Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wachter-Boettcher's book on understanding the exclusionary power and privilege of technology is must-read for anyone who works in technology or with technology (which yes, means the vast majority of us). She moves through a variety of technologies, platforms, and systems to show how while useful, technology also privileges certain groups of people and excludes other and that if technology is going to truly meaningful and transformative, it needs to be inclusive. She does this by look at different technology and raise questions around questions of edge-cases (people who do not fit the mold of how tech designer assume will fit into their technology or who were not prepared for such people), intentional design made to rush users rather than engage them, and how companies have histories of abusing or not protecting the information they gather on users. It&…

November's Bookshelf

As you'll see, I got into reviewing books this month a bit more.  I have several reasons as to why.  The first is that books are conversations and after reading one, I sometimes have a lot to say in return.  The second is that I've been getting more requests from friends and readers to hear more about what I think about certain books and so I'm happy to indulge in some reflecting.  The third is just that I find I retain more (that reflecting thing) when I write a bit about what I read and what resonated (or didn't) with my reading.  Finally, it gives me something to put on the blog, right?  

In other news, I broke my 200 book goal for reading in 2018 and at the time of writing this (the last week in November), I'm at 210.  I have a forthcoming post about reading practices that may highlight some of this.  As I close in on December though, I'm hoping that I achieving my other reading goal of the year which is to read at least 24 physical books.  I read lots of ph…

Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am late to the game with this one but I blame that on my aversion to picking up book series that aren't finished yet. You can blame Robert Jordan for that one--and if you don't know who he is, well, imagine Lord of the Rings, like ten more books over varying lengths between 600-1000 pages; and the author dies before finishing it. So I don't like to start something unless I know it's finished and since the third book was recently published, I was excited to finally read The Fifth Season because everyone that knows me, said I should read it. The story is a masterclass in world building and merging science-fiction and fantasy in compelling ways. I appreciated the character development and how we are given a lens into the lives of humans that are both like us and far different.

The premise is it is the future of Earth in a time of environmental disaster; but so far into the future that the world we know has been forgo…

PhD Chronicles: The Partners of Doc Students

I dedicate this post to my partner, Christine.  She's been my rock, my superstar, my support, and the swift-kick-in-the-ass when I needed it with the program or when I wasn't holding my own at home.  She deserves as much credit for my success as I do.

I want to talk about being in a doctoral program and having a romantic partner in one's life, because for many of us, that's the situation we find ourselves as we enter into a doctoral program such as the one I'm in, which is geared towards established professionals in their 30s and beyond (not saying others are not part of the group, but this is the clear demographic).

It takes a lot to dedicate 3 years of  Fridays during the semester and three 3-weeks in June.  It forgoes many different opportunities and possibilities.  It limits what can be done during the week and the weekends.  It becomes a serious part of your life (and it should).  But if you are working full time and in a relationship with someone and in a docto…