Back to School


Back to school commuting fun!
Back to school commuting fun!

I’ve been amused for the past month by all the back to school adverts and the like I’ve run across, and today it seems the world and his wife has gone back to work/school.  Hah!  Alright for some, since essentially doing a PhD is a bit of a 52 weeks a year commitment the idea of actually taking a proper break feels a bit alien right now (although it might be nice if Mrs Llama actually has some time one day for us to take a weekend break or something).

And since everyone else has gone back to school I thought it was only right that I went back into writing the daily posts for the blog, rather than doing sneaky short week-encompassing ones.

Highlight of today was going in to the still-deserted campus for a meeting with my supervisors, in their new funky collaborative space in the Computing and Informatics building.  Don’t worry, I’ve not jumped disciplines – I’m still Culture, Media and English, but they’ve been moved into the much more modern area.  The idea being academics might be more likely to collaborate.  Not sure they’re 100% convinced by it, but it was a nice area to have a meeting.  All the same, how it’ll work in practice once more of the academics are back from their vacations remains to be seen.

They were somewhat amazed by the scope of my interviews, not to mention having them all transcribed.  Looks like they want me to put the analysis to one side for a moment and dive in to writing my current chapter on marketisation of education as the primary goal for now.  And then back to the analysis, and then we plan the next steps.  So that’s probably pretty much the rest of 2013 wrapped up for me now I suspect given it’s going to take a month to really tame this chapter (so many new concepts to get my head around) and then at least a month to do the analysis properly.  Factor in the new research training module I’ll be taking, the odd PhD student meeting, perhaps a day off or two and there we are – it’s December easily!


The day began with a spot of house keeping.  Might seem a minor thing, but I’ve managed to end up with research papers I’ve read and bits of random paper all over the place in recent weeks, so a good tidy was in order.  Then I wrote up yesterday’s meeting, or as it’s otherwise known “My To Do List”.  Writing up the meeting while it’s fresh in my mind is important, but it’s also key I think to write it after sleeping on it – because there’s a number of things that were flagged up in passing comments that I remembered and am making sure to highlight.  Yes, I did take notes – but of the staccato short variety – the meetings tend to ebb and flow a bit rather than following a tight structure (which would probably kill about 63% of people I used to work with) so capturing the essence of what was said is a bit tricky.

I did have an agenda though, which helped at least make sure everything I wanted to discuss, got discussed!


One of those days where I struggled to get going and found a thousand things to do other than what I needed to do.  Also spent an hour sorting out the neighbour’s laptop, PC and printer.  She asked if I’d ever thought of working as an IT/computer person full-time.  After shuddering, I explained that I enjoy knowing how to use and manipulate computers, but I also like not dealing with them 24/7.  Not quite sure she believed me.  Still, I fixed everything pretty quickly this time (short of an OutlookXP issue which I’ll consult with Mrs Llama over at the weekend).


Damn good read
Damn good read

Slightly odd day today as for various complex reasons I needed to be in the same location as the Wife to sign some papers.  So I caught the train from Sileby to Stevenage.  Well, I say train it’s actually three trains (via Nottingham and Grantham) and takes around 2.5hrs, so longer than it does to drive.  And costs more that the petrol would.  But at least while I was sitting on the train I was able to read my way through most of Capitalist Realism, which is a cracking book,, very accessible and insightful at the same time.  It’s use of examples from TV and film to illustrate the issues really spoke to me (what a shock eh).  Oh, and the author is dead right about Office Space – it’s a wonderful film full of insight and humour; one of my long time favourites.

By the time we’d sorted out our business, and I’d learned not to stand directly under an air conditioner on full blast for ten minutes (hint it makes you feel horribly unwell) there wasn’t much time or drive to do any more work.  So to make up for I chatted to Mrs Llama about what I’ve been studying recently and tried to make sense of it.  It really helps you make sense of a lot of things to have someone to bounce them off, something I don’t really get in the week.

Night in Stevenage and dinner at the wonderful (if pricey) Coast to Coast American Diner.  Hot wings and Nachos – yum yum.  Better class of diner than Nados (which I am partial to as well) next door in addition.


Map which looks like a bladder
Map which looks like a bladder

The morning was spent working on some more reading and a little writing in my Stevenage hotel room, before the Wife came to collect me for the long drive back to Leicestershire.  Once we were back and settled in I’ve spent the rest of today tidying up my notes, updating RefWorks and expanding my glossary of terms.  A lot about various forms of capital this time.  Oh and I even had a brief exchange of tweets with the author of one of the books I’ve been reading this week, which was nice.  Certainly ready for the weekend, though looking forward to really getting into to some serious writing and editing next week.


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