It’s a Whole New World

Monday

New week: New status quo. From hereon out during the weeks Mrs Llama will be living and working way down south in a place celebrated in song and verse* called Stevenage.  Normally she’ll be leaving home at daft-o-clock on a Monday morning and coming back on Friday evening.  However, as today was her induction day and she needed to be there extra early she left last night to stay over an extra night.  This means during the week that unless I’m interviewing or have some reason to go into uni (there aren’t many) that chances are I’ll be talking to no-one all day.  I’ve sorta mixed feelings over this.  Much as I’ll be missing her, Mrs Llama was around the house a lot recently and did tend to inturpt me on days when I was really going great guns on the research.  Now I’ll have all the time and quiet** I need to really focus on my work.

Of course I do worry that I’ll atrophy what little remains of my social interaction skills.  Which probably means I’ll end up lying in wait for the post-man or the window cleaner in order to have some semblance of a conversation during the day.

The road outside Nottingham this morning
The road outside Nottingham this morning

However, today I made sure that I spoke to people by heading into campus to interview one of the NTU library staff about the university’s open access activities.  Knowing from when I used to work in Nottingham how bad rush hour traffic can be, I set off from home at 7.45am.  Thanks to one of the worst traffic cues caused by roadworks I’ve been in for some years, I made it to Nottingham at 9.20am, with a whole 10 minutes to spare – rather than the hour or so I had anticipated.  On top of this the library is being refurbed so I wouldn’t have been able to go in the normal entrance, but luckily I ran into my interviewee in the street and we went in together.  Useful interview as always, and the drive home was a piece of cake (aside from the chugger who tried, fruitlessly, to engage with me when I popped into a shop on the way home – I’m not THAT desperate for interaction.)

Yet.

The rest of the day was spent conducting and arranging more interviews, and transcribing.  Annoyingly my trial of Express Scribe ran out, and they’ve cleverly/evilly designed it to drop little bombs all over you registry so you can’t just uninstall and re-install and keep going.  I did sign up for another transcription trial with some different software, but rapidly decided I didn’t like it and gave in and paid the £19 to get a full version of ES.  Hopefully that should serve me well for a few years now!

I am beginning to wonder if my supervisors have fallen off the planet again, as they’ve gone dark for a three or more weeks now.  Not heard a peep from them since long before I sent them my outline summer work schedule.  Kinda expected to have had some feedback by now, but not a sausage.  I know I’ll see them next Thu/Friday at the School Conference, but it’s hardly what I expected.  Ah well, doubtless they will reappear before too long.  Maybe they actually got to go on holiday – unlike some of us!

Oh and as part of my efforts to ensure I don’t just sit at home like a shrinking violet, I’ve volunteered to participate in a Graduate School focus group in a few weeks.  Should be an entertaining afternoon out.

People spoken to: Physically: 2, Verbally: 3

*This may be the biggest fib I’ve ever written here.
**Relative quiet – I live off a busy road, so it’s never exactly that quiet

Tuesday

Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis
Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis


Turns out that after I finished yesterday that I’d no energy left to do anything other than eat and then fall asleep on the sofa around 7pm, so it was hardly a start to the life of an ersatz bachelor gay I expected.  Still, 12hrs sleep did give me enough energy to face a rather grey Tuesday with a smile.  Another couple of interviews and some transcription in the morning, and then an afternoon doing battle with a book on Critical Discourse Analysis.  This is one of my chosen methods of analysis, although I know from discussions with my supervisor that the form that my analysis takes might not be this exactly.  As usual there were some bits of this book that sank in easier than others.  I think there was one chapter where I think the author was writing in code, and while this might just be the views of a relative novice in the field, for a book pitched as an introduction to the subject it was a bit of a struggle.

Wednesday

Today we were supposed to have another of our PhD meet ups.  As you might recall last time there was just me, which didn’t impress me much (nothing like a wasted 30mile drive and 2hrs lost from the day!), so I’d checked with a couple of the other would-be attendees if they might be there.  One declined, due to work pressures but the other was coming, and thankfully we were joined by a third so it was well worth turning up.  Where the other 5 or 6 people in the group were…heaven only knows!

We had a long discussion about the nature of the group, and the benefits it offers in terms of emotional, mental and practical support.  I’ve always learned something through attending and listening (even if today I declined to share anything – not sure either Mai or Kornelia could tell me how to type transcripts any faster!), not to mention that advantage of taking a step back from your work and getting a bit more objectivity.  I tend to return to my research at least a little invigorated after each meeting, which is why it was such a body blow to miss out on it last time.  We’ve got one more meeting planned for next month and after that we’re going to play with the format and see if we can’t do something a bit more academic with some of the sessions, not to mention trying to join up with some of our fellow PhDs in sociology; with whom we all have much more in common academically than the Arts & Humanities crowd.

After that I came home, lunched and sorted a few email chores before turning to finish off the CDA book, write-up my notes, update my glossary and planned reading list.  Then I wrapped up the day by scrutinising a couple of transcripts for data.  Now I just have to pick up and file/recycle all the scattered paper off the floor and I can call it a day.  Might even finish before 6.30pm if I’m lucky today! w00t.

Thursday

Today was brought to me in association with the letter Apathy and the number Meh.

Didn’t help that it was a bit of a sleepless night and I found myself at my PC keyboard spodding around the internets from 6am.  The highlight of the day was probably the visit from our newly recruited gardener – who is going to help us tame the vast expanse of wilderness we once called lawn while Mrs Llama works away.  But other than a few words with him I’ve not actually spoken to anyone else today, which is a bit of a bummer.  Hence the combination of lack of sleep didn’t make for a happy researcher today.

Spent some time in the morning starting to draft my conference presentation for next Thursday.  As I’m only adapting my research proposal, you’d think that would come easy.  But no, it was a struggle to make any kind of sense out of it.  My paranoia was rather getting the better of me, in that I just kept envisioning the attendant PhDs and academics looking bored to tears or ripping my work apart.  I suspect the truth’ll be somewhere between the two.  Beginning to rather regret agreeing to do a paper, but it seemed a good idea at the time.  Ah well, trial by fire it is.

I decided around lunchtime that I’ll drag myself onto campus tomorrow and just work on it for half a day, free from the distractions of home and garden.  Hopefully I might even see some more of those things we call human beings (although going on how dead Clifton Campus was on Wednesday, I won’t hold my breath).

After lunch I read a short paper, and then went off to do some transcription and top-level analysis of the my interviews.  I’d dearly like to include some element of the interviews in my conference paper, but think it’s going to be too soon for me to have enough of an idea of what to mention and what not to mention.  Don’t want to give out duff information!

I also trawled through various websites and sent off some more requests for interviews.  I’ve noticed a few people I’ve spoken to over email already are still outstanding with a date, so I think early next week I’m going to chase these up, as they’re all folks I’d really value talking to.

Right, I’m going to do a bit more transcription and then probably call it a day at 7pm, or earlier if Mrs Llama calls me on Skype.

Friday

My office for the day
My office for the day

Not the greatest of days due to managing to lock myself out of the house.  I was next door helping the neighbour set up their new laptop, and was popping in and out of my own place to check some stuff on the internet (since my wireless doesn’t quite reach into their house) and put my keys down on my computer desk…  *sigh*  As a result I ended up working in the garden until early afternoon when Mrs Llama escaped from work early to rescue me.  I guess perhaps a little downtime isn’t such a bad thing, but I was annoyed with myself for wasting time like that unplanned.  On the other hand, my greenhouse is now very well organised.

Once I was back in the house I spent the time transcribing and analysising interviews.  The plan for the day had been to work on my conference presentation on campus, but I’ve pushed this back to Monday now.  That and reading theory are pretty much going to be my only focus next week.

I also had to draft a very short bio (biography) for the conference for next week.  I’ve kept a copy of every biography I’ve  written for conferences and the like, but this is the first time I’ve had to write one for an academic conference.  I wrote something a bit like a bio for the Durham Forms of Innovation workshop, but that was a bit more wordy.  Since this was expressly a “very short bio” I thought I’d seek some advice – this post by Jennifer Sano-Francini was very helpful in terms of telling me what to include and leave out.  I did however tot-up my publications for it.

…has published 30 articles, 4 book chapters, 38 book reviews and has presented at 84 conferences and workshops.

Good lord, that’s a fair few more than I thought.  Wonder if anyone’s actually read any of them, mind you!  I wonder if I should add “internationally” at the end, although technically there’s only one paper I delivered overseas so that might be stretching the truth a bit.  Unless I can count Wales and Scotland as foreign lands yet?  I did then realise that actually my CV lists conferences I’ve attended not just presented at, so my conference paper count is actually just over 70.  Still a nice bit of self-reflection to finish off a partially disastrous day.

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