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like leaves in the wind

maura @ 10:50 pm

I’m jumping from task to task right now, having a hard time focusing on getting done what needs to happen: blagging, packing, tech prep, last minute email answering, figuring out where to get poutine.

Tomorrow I’m off to Montreal for the American Anthropological Association meetings. My research partner and I are presenting about one small part of our huge honking research project on Friday morning, yay! It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a really academicy conference. Yes, we wrote a paper, and yes, we will probably read it. But our slides are good, and I think it’s okay to read a paper sometimes (she reassures herself).

Once again I’ll be traveling without my laptop, with just my ipad. I flirted with bringing the laptop for a long long time, because we will be on a bus for a long long time. But it’s just not practical to schlepp it around with me. So we’ll see how much I can get done on the bus with the pad, yo. (Fingers crossed for wifi!)

I’m looking forward to visiting Montreal again, even though it’s only really for one day. Maybe we’ll go to the archaeology museum! And the rad library, too. Right this very minute Jonathan’s verifying the quality of the poutine and tart sucre place we’re eyeballing, yum. Considering bringing an extra suitcase to stuff with coffee crisps.

Ah, go away, I have to pack!


here’s the thing of it

maura @ 9:57 pm

Just so you know, this is going to be a short, boring, bragging post.

I’ve got lots of balls in the air right now, and one of the things I’m doing is looking to see where my scholarship has been cited. It’s just the best kind of nerd high to see that one of my articles has been cited once, another 3 (!) times. And the one that’s been cited 3 times has been viewed over 1,400 times, according to the journal’s website!

I’m jonesing to see how often the article that was published last week has been viewed, but that journal doesn’t make those #s visible in the author interface. Plus it’s probably too soon for anything real. Although, when I tweeted about it (see, told you it’d be braggy), someone who has 1900+ followers retweeted me, so that’s something.

I’ve got other stuff to finish tonight, but tomorrow night I’ll be looking to find my top commented-on posts at the library blog I contribute to.

And I leave you with this: go, open access publishing, GO!


extra bonus

maura @ 9:34 pm

The nice thing about keeping track of my word count is that this here blog writing month thing makes me feel extra special because I’m guaranteed to have at least something in the spreadsheet for every day, yay! Yes, it’s gamification, but it helps keep up the writing motivation to be able to say that I’ve written something every most days. I do indeed need stinking badges, apparently.

So that’s why I can say for sure that I don’t feel guilty about a short post tonight, because the paper I’m working on with my research partner has grown to 4470 words after my efforts this afternoon. Hard to know exactly how many new words I added, probably only a couple hundred. But revising is hard, too, so I’m calling it a job well done and knocking off for tonight.


a little bit puny

maura @ 10:52 pm

Yeah, it’s a phoning it in kind of evening. But hey, I wrote a (so very short) blag post over on the CUNY Games Network blag about the article that I wrote that just came out yesterday, so that counts, right? Right?


elevator love letter by stars

maura @ 11:18 pm

This song used to remind me of working for Amex Publishing, because that’s when I first really started listening to Stars. When I did production on the websites I’d often put something on the headphones on repeat (we had a pretty open cubicle plan so headphones were a useful signal that someone was hunkering down to get stuff done) and Stars went well with HTML. Then we went to Montreal two summers ago and now I only think of Montreal when I think of Stars because that’s where they’re from.

Last week my research partner and I got an acceptance email from the Anthropological Association of America (AAA, but not the car kind) for the conference proposal we submitted as part of a panel on library ethnography. The conference is in Montreal this fall, so it’s been Stars in my head ever since. It’s been years and years since I’ve been to the AAAs, should be an interesting trip. The conference will be in the rainbow-hued Palais de Congres so I will finally get to see the inside, too.


what i did on my summer vacation

maura @ 8:30 am

Yesterday was the last week of summer hours at my job, when we work extra on Mondays through Thursdays and get Fridays off. Other than vacations I’ve been using my Summer Fridays to work on my research project, but yesterday I took the day off. I did some chores and errands, then Jonathan and I took advantage of the Gus-at-camp time to go see a matinee of Inception (which totally lived up to the hype, imho).

This has been a grumpy summer for me, scholarly work-wise. Mostly the problem is that I can’t help comparing it to the past two summers. Two years ago I spent the summer analyzing a small data set and writing it up into an article with a colleague. Last summer I wrote an article all by my lonesome, which I’m happy to report was just published. And even last semester, which was totally busy, another colleague and I wrote an article that we submitted to a journal earlier this summer.

This summer my main work has been writing up a preliminary report on the research project I’m working on with a colleague. I finished a first draft of the data from my site this week, and at 20 pages (single-spaced!) it’s definitely something real and tangible, the product of my summer. Absolutely I’m proud of it, and the project, too, which I love and believe has real value. But at the same time I can’t help feeling like it’s somehow less than my work in previous summers.

I’m heading into my 3rd year in my job so there’s still another 4 long years until I come up for tenure. I try not to freak out about it too much; it’s still a while out, and I think I’m in pretty good shape. But it’s sometimes it’s hard not to worry. The research and publication bar is inching ever higher, and it’s not always clear what’s sufficient. What is clear, of course, is the gold standard: the peer-reviewed journal article, the monograph published by a scholarly press. A preliminary report on research, even a 20-page one, isn’t one of those.

I don’t regret the summer’s work. It needed to happen. Our project continues and expands this coming academic year, and it’s important to get a sense what went well and what didn’t before we dive into data collection again. We’ve identified lots of themes that we’re interested in exploring further in our interviews with faculty and students at our four additional research sites. And this report will serve as a starting point for articles, presentations, etc. we write in the future (and, eventually, a book).

So why am I still so grumpy? A wise friend suggested that it’s a combination of settling into my job (both the librarian and researcher parts of it) and tackling such a big research project. She’s probably gotten it spot on. I love this project, but it is enormous and I am constantly fighting guilt that I’m not paying as much attention to it as I should be. There’s big things, like coding transcripts from all 82 interviews we did this past year and entering the data into our qualitative analysis software. There’s little things, like writing the reports for the IRB that approved and grant that funded last year’s work. At any given moment there is something I could be working on related to this project.

Which I guess is my task for this year: making progress on the project in a sustainable way. With an article in our sights, even if it’s not right now.

les tags: ,

a sad confession

maura @ 9:57 pm

I’ve had my laptop for over a year now, and have been proud to have very little closed, corporate software installed. A few smallish applications here and there — e.g., BBEdit, Omnigraffle — all fully purchased, thank you very much. But I’d avoided the big evil: Microsoft Office. Instead I went with OpenOffice, the open source, freely available word processing/spreadsheet/presentation software alternative.

The interface is a little clunky, but I’ve gotten used to it by now and I know which menu options have all of the tools I commonly use. Sometimes there’s a bit of weirdness moving files between OpenOffice on my home machine and Word on my PC at work, but it’s not that big of a deal. Usually it’s just on the order of bullets being replaced with little checkboxes or something similarly innocuous. The bullets print out okay so I figure all’s well that ends well.

There is one quite significant stumbling block with OpenOffice though, and that’s the presentation software. No matter how hard I try, bad things seem to happen when I move a file back and forth between OpenOffice presentation and PowerPoint. Backgrounds disappear, fonts go wacky, I can’t print the slides in Notes view, that sort of thing. For the past year I’ve managed this mostly by creating all of my presentations at work using PowerPoint, since it’s pretty much guaranteed that any computer I’ll need to use for a presentation will have PP and not OO. But this weekend I hit the wall with that strategy. I’m giving a presentation at the end of the week, and it’s a long enough talk that I really need to be able to create my slides while I’m at home. The presentation is at a conference, and I realized yesterday that I’m just not willing to leave things to chance by using OpenOffice to make my slides.

So I installed Microsoft Office on my machine yesterday. The whole kit + kaboodle, even Entourage (does anyone even use that? what the heck does it even do?).

It makes me feel low. I wanted to stick with the open source stuff. I hate the MS monopoly. But then I realized that I hadn’t even gotten away from it when I was relying solely on OpenOffice: I never once saved a file in the native OpenOffice format. Every file I have is saved as a .doc or a .xls, which I needed to do so I could use the files at work as well as at home. I was locked in to the closed source system without even using the applications.

Now I’m part of the MS matrix again, sigh. Except that the joke’s on me, in two ways:

1. The interface for the Mac version of Word is significantly different than for the PC version, so I’m kind of lost when it comes to menu options.

2. Word and Excel display with such a high resolution that I need to increase the view size to comfortably compose text. I hate it when I get docs from folks who have the view cranked up to 150%, now I know why they do it!

I guess I will get used to these new “features.” But in the meantime I am still using OpenOffice to view .doc and .xls files. Old habits, etc.


i’m kinda busy

maura @ 10:54 pm

Recently not one but two completely unrelated people asked me about archaeology. Specifically they asked if I ever thought of getting back into archaeological research. I guess I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it sometimes. I read news stories about new discoveries with interest, and whenever we go to the AMNH or anyplace at all historic I bore my family with any archaeological details I happen to know. And there is one chapter in my dissertation that I might be able to convert into an article someday. I wouldn’t say that I’m incredibly interested in heading back out to the field (and definitely not back to the lab), but there are lots of other archaeological research topics to consider.

But I’ve got lots of other research plates spinning right now, and not a lot of time for new stuff. There’s my big research project, which has a pile of data to analyze and more on the way (I started student research process interviews this week). And I’m working on an article with another colleague. And I’ve spent some time this semester developing a game to teach students about evaluating information, which I’ll be presenting at a conference in June and probably trying to write up somewhere. And I’ve got a couple of other ideas floating around, too.

Time is always the issue. I’m a greedy time junkie — I crave more time the way shopaholics can’t wait for their next consumer fix. It’s not that I want to do less librariany stuff to fit in more research. I love the librarian parts of my job, and I’m still totally thrilled to be teaching our new course this semester. If anything I want more time for that stuff, too. And family stuff and leisure stuff and and and…

Maybe I should stop reading. Clearly that’s part of the problem. Reading leads to new ideas, and new ideas lead to yearning for time for implementation. Literacy: the hidden dark side!

(Or, of course, I could always just relax a bit.)


ha! bet you thought i’d forgotten

maura @ 10:46 pm

But no, I was just working on my poster for tomorrow’s faculty poster session. Which is almost done, just needs the final constructing before work tomorrow.

It is, late, though, and I’m still nursing this head cold (which has stayed at the low-level annoyance phase, thankfully). So here are a few pictures that struck me as funny. Because part of this research project is asking students to take photos of various objects/locations. And one of the photos is “the night before a big assignment is due.” And that’s where I’m at, tonight. So here’re my photos:

working hard

or hardly working?

I should probably take a picture of the whole poster tomorrow, too, huh?

les tags: , ,

grab your skeleton key

maura @ 9:34 pm

Today I had RT* and worked on a poster for my research project that I’m giving at the faculty poster session later this week. I’ve done posters before, but not since I’ve gotten all ethnographic with this qualitative study I’m working on right now, and it’s been a bit weird to make this poster. I mean, my old archaeology self was really comfortable with posters. Charts + graphs? Check. Photos of the site or the faunal remains? Check. Brief bullets w/salient data points and conclusions? Check.

* Reassigned Time, boon to the jr faculty member, in which I do all much** of the research + publication that will (I hope) eventually earn me tenure + promotion someday.

** Because I have my Morning Writing Time, too.

But this poster is different. First off, these are only preliminary results — no final conclusions yet (though they’re interesting enough to make the poster feasible). Stranger to me is that I don’t have any charts and graphs. No charts and graphs! I feel a bit naked.

It’s been harder than I thought it would be to recreate a narrative on the poster (this is the project, here’s why we’re doing it, here’s what we’ve done so far, and this is what the interviewees said). I’ve pulled out a few interesting quotes and highlighted them in blue. I’m using Creative Commons-licensed photos from Flicker to illustrate the salient points, e.g. a big twisty clock for the “students have many demands on their time” point. And, I sheepishly admit to using a bit of clipart, too (hey Flickr, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you had more photos of people of color).

Is there going to be enough info there without my friends the Charts and their neighbors the Graphs? Tomorrow I have to pick up the posterboard, so we’ll see how it turns out.