Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Streaming tunes inside my head

This is more a request for advice than a contribution. I'm constantly distracted by the buzzing of all sorts of tunes inside my head: “I just wanna feel/real love feel the home that I live in/ cos I got too much life/ running through my veins/ going to waste”. This was this morning's song and even though I like(d) it I now find it annoying; it gets worse when the tune is unpleasant. I've somewhere read a suggestion to write down distracting thoughts as a way to "flush them out" of your head but what do you do when the tunes come streaming into you one after the other? You can't write them down all, can you? Otherwise you would end up memorizing them and condemning yourself to humming them permanently. I know, I score above average on ADHD but it still is manageable, plus I don't have time to follow any special training, let alone going with a shrink (you would definitely need to be very wealthy for that in London).

Ok, it's 8:23 GT, I've been up for 1:30 hours already and haven't moved a finger to get the diss going.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Transcription service-- update

About a month ago, I mentioned that I decided to bust out the credit card and pay to have 4.5 hours of audio transcribed by a service. Now that I've gotten all the files back (the audio was from three separate 1.5 hour group discussions) and have had time to check the accuracy of the transcriptions, I'm really happy that I opted for this.


  • I used Their rates seemed competitive. I had to pay $3.00/min (the highest per minute rate) because the discussion sessions each had more than three participants. (Lower rates available for smaller sessions.) My total bill ended up being about $700 (if you're doing the math at home, note that I didn't have to pay for the minutes during which I played a video for the group). That sum hurts to look at all at once, but I was seriously avoiding doing that work myself. Now it's done, and I'm moving forward. Worth it.

  • Service was quick and friendly. The initial contact is by phone (I left my phone number at the website) to make sure that both parties are clear on the transaction. Then, I received an email with instructions on how to upload the mp3s via FTP (if you don't understand FTP-- like me-- then let me assure you it was really easy).

  • Transcribing took 3-5 business days. I opted to have the speakers identified separately (Female 1, Male 2, Male 3, etc). This identification wasn't always perfect, but it was right about 85% of the time.

  • The transcripts were very accurate. I had to adjust a couple of words per page. The transcripts were weakest when several people were speaking at once, but this is hardly a surprise.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is sitting on some audio and finding every reason possible to not transcribe it herself.

Cross posted at Intent/effect.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Starting from scratch

Indeed, as bionic-woman wrote, Billie's plan of work sounds like it's at the wrapping up stage, and considering her manifest dedication I'm sure the 75-day deadline is highly feasible.

For me, finishing the PhD this year is a life or death question, at least financially, which is why I must submit by October 20 hoping to have my Viva early in December. So far I've completed my data analysis (of structured interviews, family discussion sessions and diaries), and have written four out of seven chapters. My problem is I just can't seem to be able to put together a literature review. I have written several dozens of pages already but when I re-read they all seem rubbish, too disorganised for my taste. It's getting worse by the minute because I've come to my closed chapters and they look like they need to be re-written too. Just an example: My “diss” working title at the moment is "Viewing globalization in transnational, Mexican-American spaces". Theories of transnationalism are central to my argument and I have explained them in detail in the overview of Mexicans in the U.S. There is stuff there which must be in the literature review, but doing this means parts of the chapter on Mexicans will be redundant. This makes me think the stuff about Mexicans must be altogether in the literature review instead of being part of a single chapter. But if I do this, then the whole structure of the “diss” would need to change.

Well, I've learned in the last three years that what happens to me is nothing special and that everyone pursuing a PhD goes through a very similar process. The thing is that I've been wasting too much time from the beginning starting from scratch whenever I find the organization of a chapter is all over the place, or when I feel I need to take a different theoretical or ideological approach. I'd very much appreciate to have your thoughts.

Introducing myself

Hello all,

My name is Gabriel. I'm a Mexican London-based 34 year old. I'm in the third year of my doctoral programme and my scholarship funding ends in September. In the beginning I thought it would all be nice and easy. I was a professional journalist, ink flowed from my fingers and I could joggle deadlines with my eyes wide shut. Right now I'm in despair. My PhD is based on fieldwork that investigated the television news consumption of Mexicans in Los Angeles. My English is not excellent but my writing keeps afloat. My problem has to do with deep anxiety provoked by the sensation that the clock is ticking, that I will soon have to be working to make ends meet and that in these last three years I've been doing nothing but writing aimlessly and being a high-maintenance parasite. I put some blame on my director of studies, who ignored mr the first two and a half years and whose new found comittment to my project consists on printing what I email to him and spell-checking it.

Anyway, so much for my introduction, I'll try to post something that's less emotional, and hopefully, more productive.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mojo Received

Just wanted to thank you all for the good vibes and mojo. Must have worked, cuz I'm Dr. Abby now. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Power of positive thinking

Hi all. Just looking for some good mojo to be sent my way tomorrow around 11. Update to follow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Touching the Diss EVERYDAY

Hi, all-- I'm in Daytona Beach and the AP Language Exam reading week. I'm striving to "touch the diss" every single day, but reading high school AP exams is kinda exhausting. No excuses there, though . . . . but I am working at the dissertation. Just not working very quickly. :-) How's everyone doing?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

New Deadline

Hi, all--

After all the good vibes and good news last week, I have a deadline now that I need to maintain (it was a soft deadline before, now it's firm). I need to have the diss finished by mid-August. I might not defend until September, and that's OK. I need to have it turned in by mid-August. That gives me two months. I have about 240 finished pages that are fairly polished, I need to flesh out about another 100 (spread over three chapters) in order to finish the whole project. I have all my data, I've more-or-less outlined the remaining chapters, and I'm no longer at a stage where I care much about it being the best piece of scholarship ever. (I don't want it to be laughable, but it doesn't have to be perfect.)

So, I have 75 days (the week before classes begin) to get this done. And I think this is completely doable.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good Vibes Request


Trapeze Artists and Life Changes: The last time I was thinking about a significant life change, a friend told me to think about trapeze artists. The trapeze artist, he said, has to be willing to let go of the trapeze she's on in order to catch the next one coming her way. In other words, she can't hold on to one while waiting on the other. She has to be willing to free fall for a few seconds before that next trapeze comes to her. How scary that thought was at the time. How scary it is again today. Yet, I'm willing to let go of the trapeze to catch the next one, to catch that next segment of my life. I'm ready today.

Thanks for the good vibes, folks. I felt' em, I did. :-)

I'm going to be a bit cryptic here, because I am not anonymous on this (or any other) blog. But I let go of the trapeze (metaphorically speaking) earlier today by turning away from what had become a very difficult situation. In letting go of the trapeze I was taking a risk that the next trapeze wasn't going to be available. But I was wrong. It was. The person I spoke with (this person has some position), was excited about the possibilities I proposed, possibilities that could benefit this department and me. Nothing is formalized yet, but it looks good. I'll say more as I know more, but thanks you guys. You rock!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Writing of a Different Kind

Hi, boot campers. I haven't written on the dissertation in a few days, but I'm finding that when I can't look at the diss any longer, I move to something else, something equally as important but different, and I work on that. I can still feel productive. This new work may not be as immediate as the dissertation, but it is no less important as I move toward the job market stage: a publishable article, job market materials, and a new/improved teaching portfolio.

These artifacts take time, and at least for me, they take a lot of time. While I think I can write just fine, I am a terrible typist. I am constantly dropping words or misspelling something and I just can't see that need for correction when I review the work (if you read my main blog, you know exactly what I'm talking about here!). While on the blog, I don't much care if I have mistyped something, on job materials or in the teaching portfolio, I have to care. But aside from little typos, just the constructing of the materials takes time. A lot of time.

I have constructed a list of the things I need (updated CV, syllabi, statement of teaching philosophy, etc), and as I have some time, I work on ONE of these items. When it's done and filed away (electronically), I can move on to the next item. I don't have time to work on the whole thing at one time . . . but little by little ("bird by bird"), I can get this work done, too.

Do you guys have any hints or tricks about the fastest, most accurate, best way of constructing these materials?