Monday, September 26, 2011

Not here

I've spent more than 13 months abroad doing field work for my Ph.D. My husband was able to come for a month just after we got married, but mostly he's been back at home while I'm out here busting my butt, trying to make my trips long enough to be worthwhile but also trying to minimize my time away from home. 

This is the last trip I have planned for data collection for my Ph.D. There are many projects that I could easily continue working on here, but I have put a firm deadline on the completion of my Ph.D. fieldwork. Will I continue working here as Dr. Anirak? I don't want to rule it out completely, but I also like the idea of having a field site much closer to wherever I'm living. I imagine I'll continue to be involved in research here from a distance, maybe with occasional short trips (less than a month).

One big reason for a fixed endpoint for my field work is so that we can have kids. I can think of no compelling reason that I should not have a kid before I finish my Ph.D. once this field work is out of the way. My American friend here tried to convince me that I'd have no problem doing field work while being pregnant or with a baby in tow, but my husband convinced me that was a terrible idea, and I think he was right. In grad school, but not here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Does this make me a real collaborator now?

I'm helping Sam with HIS application for a fellowship. It's really exciting stuff that I'll be involved in so I've got a stake in it too. It just struck me as I sent him a ton of comments that the tables are turned!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Geotagging photos and saving tracks on a Garmin GPS

Surely someone else will find this information useful. I use a Garmin GPSmap 60Cx. For the past 3 trips to the field I have been religiously saving my GPS track at the end of the day so I have a record of where I went. I save it with the date, then I clear the track so I can start fresh the next day. At least every few days, I download all of my waypoints and tracks to Garmin's BaseCamp program to make sure I have a backup of all of the points and tracks.

I've known that geotagging my photos using a tracklog from my GPS was possible, but I didn't try it until this trip. There are some simple programs (such as PhotoGPSEditor) that match up the time on your track with the timestamp on your photo, and voila! Your photo is geotagged.

However, this means YOUR TRACKS HAVE TO HAVE TIMESTAMPS. When you "save" your track on the GPS, IT STRIPS THE TIMESTAMPS*. This means that if you want to use your Garmin (GPSmap 60Cx or similar) to geotag your photos, you need to download the ACTIVE track every day.

I could have geotagged thousands of photos this way if only I'd known. Learn from my mistake. Download your active log before clearing it! Don't just rely on that "save" function!

*Apparently this is a space-saving measure- a stupid one in my opinion. You should at least have the option to preserve timestamps or not.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Parallel lives?

At one of the permit offices here I met another American woman getting her research paperwork squared away. As we chatted and talked about our research and backgrounds we found some crazy similarities. We are both 5th year phd students who first came here in 2008. We both have husbands (named Jon!) who we met in college and married in spring 2009. She studied abroad in the same place I did in the same academic year and we graduated in the same year. But these last few really take the cake- she and her now-husband also spent a year in Remote Foreign Country where she applied to grad school and then they lived in Big City for 2 years! Crazy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meticulous lists

Each time I've left Ukenzagapia, I have left many things behind. My habit has been to fly with 2 bags at the weight limit, and fly home with one about half-full. You can imagine I've accumulated a lot of stuff here! I've left clothes, books, supplies, equipment, toiletries, medicine, all sorts of things. In order to keep myself from brining, let's say, another unnecessary cipro prescription or bottle of Ivy Block, I make meticulous lists of what I leave and where I leave it.

Actual excerpts from my April list:

Large trunk:
-One roll of masking tape
-Rite in the rain universal spiral bound notebooks (3)
-Set of multi-sided dice
-Assorted small canisters
-1 foldable yellow ruler
-1 plastic pipette

-Electric water kettle
-Electric two-burner hotplate
-Four dinner plates
-Small plates (2)

Cardboard box:
-Box of ~62 sandwich ziplocks
-Hand lens
-Obama shirt
-Black sports bra
-Grey pants (too big)
-Empty hand santizier bottle
-Deck of cards

You get the idea. This has helped me numerous times. I've even recorded a list as a voice memo because I was in such a rush I had no time to write it down, and then I transcribed it later. April's list of things left in Nyota had 200 line items, and then another 40+ left with my American friend.

Thanks to these lists, I've realized that some of my things did indeed go missing- I didn't just imagine I had them. In the time that I was back in the U.S., Sam came and left with his family, and Cam left a month ago. Now I'm missing 8 rechargeable AA batteries and two books. I'm pretty sure Sam is the one who lost track of these things one way or another. Also, Cam used up all of my duct tape and didn't tell me, so I didn't get more. He also said he left his bottle of Ivy Block, but it's nowhere to be found.

I don't mind that they used my stuff- I even gave them permission. I'm just annoyed that, for whatever reason, things didn't end up back where they should have.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How I spent my summer

Maybe I'm a little late on this. I wrote it over a week ago but I've been slow to post it! The week of Labor Day kind of counts as the end of summer, right?

In the spring I returned to Big City just in time to (belatedly) celebrate our 2nd anniversary. As a belated birthday gift to me, we took a 4-day road trip in May that let us explore some new areas. I spent a few days visiting friend and collaborator Theo analyzing data for my conference presentation. In July we did a lot of traveling. We spent a week at the beach with my family, went to a wedding for our friends whose cats we had for a year, then spent a week with Jon's family on a tranquil lake. Our dog learned how to swim and we learned she's still clumsy (and adorable).

Shortly after returning home from Ukenzagapia in the spring, I decided that I was going to do a triathlon this summer. I found an all-women one nearby and started training. I had signed up for an indoor triathlon more than 2 years ago, but that ended up being the weekend of my grandmother and sister's funerals, so that didn't happen. I don't particularly love running, I'm not a very good swimmer, and I'm not a very fast cyclist, but I liked that the training was varied so I didn't get bored. I also did some yoga. I didn't stick to my training program exactly, and I felt like I should have done more, but the triathlon was actually easier than I thought it would be. It was just a sprint distance tri, which means the distances are all reasonable. I was thrilled with my performance (easily top 50%) and I definitely want to do more triathlons. I felt great going into the run, and really surprised myself at how fast I ran.

When we weren't traveling, I spent my days at the office working on data analysis for the conference and writing. Then most the last week after the conference was spent getting ready for this last trip to Ukenzagapia! So that's how I spent my summer. Goodbye, summer. See you next year!