Friday, January 28, 2011

My relationship with books

For many academic books that I have recently acquired, my relationship goes something like this:
1. Check book out from the university library. Renew one or more times.
2. Purchase book for myself when I find a good deal.
3. Bring book to Ukenzagapia.
4. Leave it there because I don't want to carry it back and forth.
5. Check it out from the library again so I can read it when I'm not in Ukenzagapia.
6. Return library books before I leave for Ukenzagapia.
7. Read books again in Ukenzagapia.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 as necessary.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back to the field

Well, I'm almost back to Ukenzagapia. I didn't cry this time when Jon and I said goodbye at the airport. My bags were right at the weight limit- one was even a pound over but they let it go anyways. I have another 10 pounds of stuff that will come with another traveler who is arriving next week. Jon is bringing that box to our friend who will bring it to the traveler who will give it to Violet the taxi driver who will then put it on a bus to send it to me.
I'm carrying a ridiculous amount of cash on me this time. Violet is picking me up at the airport and bringing me straight to my friend's house with my 120 pounds of luggage. I'll unload some of the cash in the city, but I'll have to change most of it into local currency, and then the stack will be too big to fit in my money belt. Gotta come up with a different plan for how to bring it all from the city to Nyota. I'm staying in the same place as last time, and Cam is still there so I won't be lonely.
Have I said on the blog that I think this may be my best trip yet? I'm super excited about the project I'm going to be working on. I think it's going to be the best part of my dissertation, thanks in part to Theo who set up data simulations to run power analyses that allowed us to hone in on a reasonable sample size. Also, my permits are all set so I hardly need to spend time in the city!
I'll be gone 3 months this time. I was only home for 9 weeks. My cell phone battery didn't even die! Hopefully the infrastructure (especially the electricity) will hold up to make the next 3 months as productive as I dream they might be. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Co-advisor, co-author, and/or committee member?

I need some of my readers to weigh in on this: In terms of the academic recognition system, how much weight is given to being an official, on-the-record co-advisor as opposed to just being on the committee and/or co-authoring publications with a student?
I thought the publications were more important than the title, but I think I might be wrong about this. Perspectives?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nobody here but us grad students

I saw at least one postdoc too.
I am glad that we have a holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., even if I am working today.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Committees... sheesh

We are required to have annual committee meetings, which I think is a good idea to keep the committee up to date on progress and changes. In December I sent out an email to schedule a meeting for January, and finally got responses from the slow folks in early January. I scheduled the meeting, and then it turned out that 2 of my 5 committee members (one of which is Herb, my advisor and committee chair) couldn't make it on that date. Herb said go ahead anyways, so I met with him and Melody separately.
This morning I woke up and had an email from Leo saying, "I hope you don't mind if I miss your committee meeting this morning. I have a lot of deadlines and need the time to work on them, and I think I already gave you all of the useful feedback I can." I wrote him back asking if he could come if we went to him at the museum, and he said ok to that but then I had to talk to Sam and Chip about it. In the end, we couldn't go to the museum because Chip didn't get to school until 1 minute before my meeting was scheduled to start, and Sam had to leave promptly after an hour.
My meeting (with only 2 of my 5 committee members) went well. It was really mostly just a meeting with Chip, since Sam and I have talked numerous times about everything that I presented (and he's sick and spent part of the meeting with his feet on a chair and his eyes closed- body language clearly indicating "I don't need to pay attention to this"). Chip had some great insights and useful suggestions so it was a useful meeting (and Chip is notoriously overcommitted and hard to pin down). Even though the meeting was fine, I am frustrated with Leo. I don't think he wants to be on my committee anymore. As I've written before, my projects have gotten further and further from his area of expertise. Last year he said, "If you're going to have committee meetings without me, maybe I shouldn't be on your committee." I like Leo and he's my main tie to the museum right now but it seems like he's not getting much out of the relationship and maybe I'm not either. I don't know who to put on the committee instead. I need to talk to Herb about all of this and decide what to do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Less than 2 weeks!

With grant money on the way, I've just put more than $3500 on my research credit card. I'm leaving in less than 2 weeks! It turns out that now is a really good time for "free 2-day shipping" with a "free trial of Amazon Prime"...

Friday, January 7, 2011


I just found out that I got a sizeable (for me) grant! I've been cautiously optimistic about my odds on this one, but was also comfortable with my backup plan (which would delay the completion of my field work my approximately 1 year but mean a shorter trip to the field this spring). I've been waiting on this to make plans for returning to Ukenzagapia, but now this means all systems are go and I leave ASAP. Eek! It's both exciting and waaay intimidating, as this means I'll be gone for about 3 months and have so much to do in the field while I'm there. Not to mention what I have to do before I leave!
Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Google Voice for when you're in the field

I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier, but Jon suggested that I set up a Google Voice number linked to my cell phone. Then Google Voice can transcribe my voicemails and send them to my email address (same for text messages). This is perfect for when I'm in Ukenzagapia for weeks on end and leave my U.S. cell phone at home. As long as I have email access, I can receive voicemail transcriptions and text messages. Way cool. I love technology!