Thursday, June 21, 2012

Big Hair, Leather Pants, and a Baboon

Tonight, I made Hubby go see Rock of Ages. I thought it was brilliantly awesome and fantastic.

Perhaps that's because I graduated from high school in 1986 in the Mid-West with big hair. During high school, my first concert was Van Halen 1984. I saw Mötley Cru twice, Kiss twice (or three times?), Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Ratt, etc. My first year of college I saw Bon Jovi twice (Cinderella opened both times, and they totally killed), and I saw Poison. So you see, for this movie? Rock of Ages? I am its exact demographic.

The rest of you--you who listened to much hipper, cooler, more sophisticated stuff that I know nothing about and can't even list--might not love the movie as I did. But I loved reliving the music through the giant Dolby surround sound, and I thought the movie did a great job of combining the music and over-the-top comedy while still eliciting my true sympathy for the characters. It was a "silly love song" to hair bands, and it cracked me up.

Now I'm going to figure out which songs are suitable for the kiddos so that we can rock out on the trip.

Oh, and Tom Cruise might be a freak, but he was awesome, and I Could Not. Look. Away.

Rock on.

Pondering Finances While at Jury Duty

I am serving jury duty today. I was summoned for Monday but then was put on standby until today. I am really hoping to be dismissed before the end of the day since we are supposed to leave town on Saturday. If I go before the judge, I will have to plead "hardship" and ask to be excused. Before living where I do now, I don't think I was ever summoned for jury duty. But here? I get summoned every 18 months, like clockwork. And the timing is never good.

Since returning from the UK, I have been focused on kids, a garage sale, and work. (I had planned to do trip preparations today and tomorrow, but now I'm here at the courthouse. Bah.)

I had mixed feelings about the garage sale, but actually, is was great. It's so nice to clear out unneeded things from the house, and it's so nice to see those things go to other people rather than to a landfill. One person showed up, and after a few minutes, I began to suspect that she was a student of mine from about 15 years ago. I remembered her well because, at the time, she was a single mom who was also in a band. She ended up getting a super nice car seat for her newest kid, and she was thrilled! Another little perk of garage sales--an interesting parade of humanity.

The sale also reminded me to think more about the value of a dollar. Hubby and I are okay with money, but we are not really as frugal as we should be, and we don't save and invest as much money as we should. These days, high prices, expensive lattes, and the regular use of plastic cards can inure me to the sense that real money--lots of it--it draining out in small bits on a daily basis (mostly in books for me and in good beer for Hubby).

About 15 years ago, I went "cash only" for a month. Doing so helped me remember the ways that dollars add up, whether they are going in or out. Surprisingly, the garage sale served as a small reminder of the same truth. Maybe Hubby and I can internalize this truth and build some new habits. I remember reading that it just takes $27 a day to spend $10,000. Certainly, I could have done that math myself, but having it pointed out to me was a bit shocking. It's so easy for me to blow $27 in a day on items that aren't truly necessary.

Recently, a former classmate of mine (and blogger/writer/knitter extraordinaire) wrote a post about money ( In it she mentions that she and her partner, for a while, spent only $50.00 a week on food. I think it would be great for Hubby and I to try to set some food limits. We don't blow money on new furniture or cars, but we spend a ton at the grocery store and eating out. I'm thinking that this would be a big area of saving for us.

Do any of you have good advice on good ways to save $27 a day?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Goodbye, UK

It has been a splendid day and a fitting farewell to England. I was looking forward to visiting a couple of small museums, but they were closed. I was disappointed, but the day turned out well anyway. It went as follows:

Leisurely breakfast at the hotel
Visit to the "Writing Britain" exhibit at the British Library
A stop in the BL store to get goodies for the kids
Back to the hotel room to read
Skyped with the family
Read more
Went to Norfolk Arms Pub for dinner (their food is SO good)
Took an evening walk around Bloomsbury (still light and the weather had cleared!)
Back to the hotel to type up some notes
Watched the end of Pride and Prejudice (2005 movie)
Wiped away my happy Jane Austen-induced tears

Now, I'm getting ready to get organized so I can get out of here really early tomorrow (by 7:00! Ack!*) so I can take the tube into Heathrow. I can't wait to get back to my family, but I will miss the time for leisure and work that I have had here. It's been like a mini-sabbatical, and I think maybe my husband and I should each take one once a year.

If I finish packing soon enough, I might be able to squeeze in an episode of Sherlock before bed.

*I realize that 7:00 isn't actually that early, but I haven't fully adjusted to UK time, so I'm still very groggy at that hour. I have set three alarms to make sure I get up.

Simple Musing

I were an actor, a male actor, and a director called me and said, "I'm directing Pride and Prejudice, and I think you would be a perfect Mr. Collins!"--I'm not sure I would be flattered.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Someone, Pull the Plug!

1:30 am
Reality Show
80s Teen Idols:

Two guys from Baywatch
Guy from Blue Lagoon
Eric from the first Real World (who only eats raw food now)
Guy from Grease 2 (a cool rider!)
Guy from Fame (TV show)
Guy from 90210 (How Do You Talk to an Angel?)

They want to make it again.

Please help. I Can't. Look. Away.

Update: Oh no. Another episode. You know what else? It is hosted and produced by Scott Baio. I am doomed.

Supervisory Meetings

All of my supervisory meetings are now complete. I have met with my primary and secondary supervisors, and I have had my monitoring interview. As many of you know, the PhD system is a bit different in the UK from the one in the US. First, the project is called a "thesis" rather than a "dissertation" (here, the dissertation is the MA project), and I think it might be, in general, a bit longer that the American dissertation. I'm expected to have five or more chapters and 100,000 words. The UK PhD also does not have all of the coursework and various stages for the American PhD. The focus is on the research and the thesis, and thesis work begins as soon as one enrolls as a post-graduate student.

The supervisory structure is also different. Instead of a committee, I have a primary supervisor with whom I work regularly, and then I have a secondary supervisor, with whom I meet from time to time. When I do my "viva voce" (like the American "defense"), I will sit before one external examiner from another university and one internal examiner, who is from my university but who has not been involved with my work. They will most likely be people I have never met. I think I am allowed to ask my primary supervisor to be present for moral support.

The purpose of my monitoring interview (which was with a third faculty member with whom I haven't worked) was to make sure my progress is timely and to see if I have any complaints about or conflicts with my supervisors.

I did not have any complaints. I have been very fortunate to have wonderful supervisors. My primary supervisor is a successful and prolific scholar who is supportive, friendly, and open. My secondary supervisor is also very nice (if a bit more reserved) and has great expertise in philosophy, which is extremely helpful to me since my project has philosophical underpinnings.

With my primary supervisor, I talked about a chapter draft I had submitted, and then we talked about the article that was rejected earlier this year. She was pleased with the chapter draft, and had great suggestions about some additional contextual factors I might research and consider. My secondary supervisor was very enthusiastic about the work and, most important, didn't seem to think I was totally stupid about the philosophical bits. And she, too, had great suggestions about ways I might further investigate the topic and its contexts. Today, my primary supervisor and I discussed the article and steps I might take to revise it so that I can submit it to another journal. She was very encouraged by the fact that I received one positive report for submission to a top-tier journal.

In short, they thought the work that I have done is very good! In fact, my primary supervisor said that I should not be stressed about whether or not the quality of my final draft will be good. She said that the work I do is very good, so my focus should be on Getting. It. Done. And though there is much left to do, they gave me a lot of great suggestions. Now, if I can just find time to do it all--the ongoing challenge. So this is where I am:

Intro: not yet written
Chapter One: Currently in article form. Needs to be revised for submission to another journal and later expanded to full chapter length.
Chapter Two: Currently at about 25 pages. Needs to be expanded to about 40-45 pages with more about context and method.
Chapter Three: Not yet drafted.
Chapter Four: Currently at about 35 pages. Needs a lot of revision with better attention to context, methods, etc. (I drafted it two years ago, so I'm sure it needs a lot.)
Chapter Five: Not yet written

This summer, I think I will work on the article revision while I also continue to develop chapter two. I will also be reading some primary texts for Chapter 5. In late summer or early fall, I will submit the article revision. Then, after I make it through fall and the peak of college crisis work, I will start in on chapter three or chapter five. I hope to have a drafts of all five chapters (even if some are only half done) and the intro by the end of next May.

It can be done! Right?