29 October 2011


Occupy Wall St.

Disappointing. Separation of church and state goes both ways. Americans don't need more hippies: they need jobs. That's all.
New York

27 October 2011

Empire State

This trip has gone very well so far. Surprisingly well. I found myself up here, talking about the myth of New York and the momentum of love with a YouTube informant turned good friend. Bizarre? Yes. Serendipitous? Yes. Now, to Connecticut.

23 October 2011

American goes to America

Tomorrow, I head out to the US for the week. My itinerary, if I fall off the face of the earth and they have to come looking for me:

Monday: 18:00 flight from LHR to Newark, staying at the Gershwin Hotel on 27th St.
Tuesday: Giving two short presentations at Hofstra University on Long Island
Wednesday: 'Meetings' (coffee, drinks, meals) from 14:00 to late-ish
Thursday: Travel by Amtrak to Berlin, CT and then to Middletown to present at Wesleyan University at 16:15, I think. Stay overnight at a cheap hotel in Middletown
Friday: Early train from Berlin to Penn Station, spend day with Berto, Bus/Train to Philly
Saturday: Philly all Day
Sunday: Philly in the morning, bus/train back to NYC and flight out of NJ at 23:00

So. Donald Glover has wisely said, 'If you aren't scared, you aren't doing anything special.' I hope he's right.

19 October 2011

Talk about Atlas.TI

Here I am talking about my research methods and use of the qualitative analysis software Atlas.TI. Enjoy.

17 October 2011

Huaraches II

These appear to be much, much more durable than my other ones. Thanks Ikea!

16 October 2011

Mid-October Run

14.49km 1:19:59 5:31min/km 1062kCal

Just a bit of sprinting in there too. Going to push it to 20 next weekend, I think. We'll see.

14 October 2011

Making time to blog

It's been a busy week: it's Friday now and I don't know where the time has gone. Going back to Middlesex once a week (yesterday, for the first time) is really nice: I can clear my head, engage with the students, think about other things. We seem to have a really good group of students this year--a really good mix and people who like to talk which is really important and really makes my life much, much easier. It's a long day for me, but I come back feeling refreshed. I just need to make sure that I don't lose my Fridays, but I have the virtual writer's retreat where I write for two and half hours on Friday morning, so that should help.

I made a difficult, but ultimately essential decision, about the scope of my thesis this week, decided to cut out 2/3 of what I had intended to do and focus, instead, on the 1/3 that I know the best and that is the most clearly developing at this point. It sounds more drastic than it is: ultimately it will mean losing two analytic frameworks and using only one on the data. The problem, I think, was that I was trying to bite off more than I can chew in terms of my analysis. There is more than enough to look at in the metaphor analysis. I need to do that well.

I'm a bit frustrated that it's come to this, to be frank, because I have spent this year chasing after all these ideas that are not really going to come to fruition in the final project, but I suppose the point is: that's the point. The PhD is about figuring this sort of thing out. Trying ideas, failing, and trying new things. In metaphorical terms, I think I flown too far from the mother duck in terms of my analysis. I need to come back to metaphor as the beginning  middle, and end of my analysis. I came here to study metaphor. My supervisor is a world class metaphor scholar. My primary analysis has been on metaphor. Why not write a thesis about metaphor? Seems clear enough.

So categories and impoliteness, although I will still be talking about them a bit, will not play a key role in my analysis.

I should say, I have written this all up in an e-mail to my supervisors that I will send in 4 hours, after reworking what I did for them last week. If they say yes, we move forward. And I can finally, finally, FINALLY start to build on the work that I've been doing and stop having everyone month be a new idea that distracts me and makes my supervision team think, Well, he doesn't have any idea what he's talking about.

In other news, from the post below about being less angry, I finally had a good week of this: Yoko and I have a real live date tonight, with dinner and coffee and no (well, probably no, likely no) kids. Just us. I can't believe it.

Finally, I had my first parent-teacher meeting ever where I was the parent, not the teacher. It was strange: I felt like I was pretending a bit (You know, I made this child, but I don't really feel like a parent. Is that okay?). Naomi likes to write and read, her teacher says: she seems very bright and likes structure. In a month, they will begin doing real work where they have to sit and work on projects for an extended period of time, and the teacher thinks Naomi will like this, because she likes having things just so. And her English is fine, she has friends, and enjoys herself.

I breathed a sigh of relief at all of this. My pursuit of my dream has resulted in normalcy for my wife and at least one of my daughters. That's something. I can sleep a little bit more soundly. Well, not until the thesis is turned in. And I have a permanent job... And, and, and. I'll sleep soundly when I'm dead.

10 October 2011

Stephen, father

Last Thursday was the worst day of the year. I can't go into it: I need to press on, forget and move forward. Move forward. Move forward.

After I picked a fight with my wife for the umpteenth time on Tuesday, I realised I can do this the easy way, or I can do this the hard way. The hard way is to continue to be angry, frustrated, and immolated by this project and take all my anger and insecurity home and saddle it on my wife and kids. Or I can make my home a refuge, the place where I am not angry, where my supervisor's criticism of me (which is perfectly apt and driving me, driving me, driving me to excellence) doesn't touch me. Where I am safe because I choose to be safe, and happy because I choose to be happy. I don't want my kids to remember me as angry and short with them.

So. We went to the Monkey Forest this weekend. And I wasn't angry. I was a little bit, sometimes, but I tried hard to let it go. And it was nice. Really, really nice. Look at how much of a father I am:
Work has come through at Middlesex for the year. I start on Thursday. I have no time for anything: parent/ teacher conferences on Wednesday (as the parent not the teacher) classes Thursday, PhD writing due Friday, Lancaster proposal on Monday, Mei to the hospital on Monday, Middlesex again on Thursday (PhD analysis notes all the time I'm not sleeping), prepare for trip, flight to NYC on Monday, presentation Tuesday, meetings Wednesday, to CT and back for presentation on Thursday, to Philly on Friday, back to NYC on Sunday, back to England, Monday, writing due for PhD on Friday.

I will survive, as long as I know how to love. It will be over in 295 days.

09 October 2011

Huaraches tear

10.63km 54:19 5:04min/km 783 kCal

My pace is good, but my huaraches tore. I need to get a thicker sole, I think. Otherwise I felt great. They really just tore in the last couple 100 meters. A good time to tear, if they're going to tear.

Otherwise, folks, I'm swamped. Really, really swamped. Expect things to quiet down a bit here for the next... Well, 10 or 15 years I would guess...

04 October 2011

Running on huaraches

5:45AM 8.83km 1:00:02 6:47min/km 664 kCal

Well, I did my first barefoot run on huaraches. No pain the whole time, but I was very, very cautious at the beginning (hence the awful time). I sprinted a little in the middle and that felt okay. The sandals/ barefoot running can really make you aware of where you are putting your weight when you strike. You end up putting very little weight on your heel, particularly when you're sprinting. This stresses the ankle and calf more and I suspect I will really feel that tomorrow. But it's the beginning of something, I think. Something good.

Marathon Training

Well, I'm not really planning on doing much training for the marathon, but one of the things I would like to do is do some of the running barefoot/in huaraches. Why? Well, first, I'm a sucker for any sort of trend, we can just say that. But actually, the barefoot running I've done so far, I've really liked and had the sense that I need to break into it for it to be really comfortable. Moreover, I like the idea of having a natural gait and not putting excess strain on my joints as running shoes let you get away with more than you should, or so the story goes. Also, I like being barefoot in general, and this fits that aesthetic, outlook.

Anyway, it's what, 5:05AM now--I've been up for like an hour waiting to go out and try the huaraches I made last night from a doormat. They aren't great: I need a better rubber sole, but when I tried them a little last night, I was quite happy. Gonna do just 4 klicks today to see how my legs feel. Little-by-little on these puppies. Ideally, I will train with them 50% of the time, with a focus on the gait, and when I have to put shoes back on (it's going to get cold, apparently), then I can keep up the gait. For what it's worth, they feel great as shoes and I think I will make a nicer pair just to wear around.
This is supposed to be helping keep my mind off of the PhD too, by the way. It's working so far. I sent in my notes on my metaphor analysis yesterday, but before I did that, I got my progress report notes from my supervisor saying that I was on track to make my goal of 1 August submission. If I'm on track with less than 10 months to go, this is a very, very good sign. Obviously, a long way to go, but every day it's a little bit less, right? 302 days.

03 October 2011


Well, the time has come. My dad finished a marathon yesterday. Maths-literate younger sister the year before. Famed older brother has been running them forever. And now. Me.