the grid

the grid

Sunday, 17 September 2023

TLQ The Movie (2023 session 3), week 2: preliminary interviews

Take one. We're just doing some on-camera testing, checking on lighting and so on, no pressure! Some of the local crew have supplied placid, friendly, outgoing cats for cat-lovers to interact with while we film your reactions to these interview questions. Meet Katja, Leon, and Minou!

CUT! Who let that dog on-set? If that belongs to someone on crew, they're fired. Animal wrangler, whatever your name is---get that dog out of here, then find the cat treats and round up our on-set cats. Not you, you're a camera person! Oh, Katja's yours? OK, carry on then. I thought these were supposed to be placid cats who can deal with other animals and people. How are they going to give the right relaxed impression when they're all poofed up? What are our stars going to think? We'll be lucky if they don't all poof up in sympathy, since they mostly seem to be cat people. 

Send them for a brisk walk on the beach followed by hot drinks while we get ourselves re-organized here. And listen: the only on-set animals I'm willing to deal with are cats. No dogs, no llamas, no alpacas, no goats, no snakes, emphatically nobody's pet tarantulas, no marsupials, no birds, no rodents. Are we clear? Cats. Only cats. Nothing that will chase cats or that the cats will chase. We want happy, relaxed cats who will contribute to the stars being happy and relaxed---nobody needs to be traumatized by critters getting mauled. Except that I will personally maul whoever brought that dog in.

Take two. Welcome, stars! I hope you've had a lovely walk on the beach and enjoyed your hot coffee, tea, or cider afterward. You look great, all energized and enthusiastic, ready for a wonderful day on set. We're going to do a little on-camera testing, checking on lighting and so on, no pressure! Some of the local crew have supplied placid, friendly, outgoing cats for cat-lovers to interact with while we film your reactions to these interview questions. Meet Katja, Leon, and Minou!

And while you get to know the cats, we'll just ask you a few easy questions, background stuff, we probably won't use it in the final film (but you never know). Ready? How old were you when you first became aware that your field of study was a professional field, as opposed to just reading or collecting pretty rocks? When did it occur to you that you wanted to work in that field professionally? When you went to graduate school, was that a long way from home for you, either in literal distance, or socially, or any other way you want to take that question? 

Don't mind the crew, we'll just be fiddling with light meters and so on while we film you answering the questions. Or if you want to skip the questions, just talk about your goals for this week and how you did last week---that'll be fine. 

Contingent Cassandra:

--Catch up with lit feedback/grading; catch up with comp feedback/grading
--Submit contract renewal portfolio (I actually did this a few hours ago, but I’m putting it on so I can celebrate being finished at the end of the week, too)
--Catch up with various online trainings that need to be up to date for contract renewal (all worthwhile, but they do proliferate, and I’ve been neglecting a few)
--Containerize items from cupboards as the containers I’ve ordered arrive, and temporarily stow most back in the cupboards
--At least begin moving books and bookshelf sitting where the refrigerator needs to temporarily live while I’m working on the area around/behind its usual spot.
--Exercise: stretching routine x 2; weight lifting x 2; walk x 1 if weather/pollen cooperate; swim x 1 if pool is open.
--Friends & family: meet up with friend if we can get our schedules to work; touch base with NY nephew


Make a weekly schedule with all major tasks blocked off
Put writing blocks into that schedule and ACTUALLY DO IT…
Finish writing newsletter and collection of people-managing things
Fun dinner out with kid
Finish reading/commenting for student thesis draft
Do two figures for in-progress paper
Do galley edits on paper I’ve almost forgotten writing

Dame Eleanor Hull:

- join the gym I decided on
- grade a set of papers
- do some other teaching prep
- research 1 hour x 5, mainly Alms chapter, also some time on Latin, conference paper project
- patch holes in kitchen wall

heu mihi:

1) Revise and finish grant application (due 9/20)
2) Read 3 articles and incorporate them into my chapter(s)
3) Finalize Assignment 1 prompt


Self-care: take proper lunchtime breaks since this is probably the last week I can for a while. Move intentionally for at least 10 minutes a day. Next weekend, get the house in order, lunches packed etc. ready for the first week of students. Go to various appointments - and continue to proactively ask for a plan to be in place if I can't cope with being back in person.

Teaching: Get every VLE and module handbook/syllabus ready. Work on first week materials for the three modules seeing significant changes this year. Feed back on draft for late MSc student, try to help student in a bit of a mess after resits sort out their choices for next year.

Research: do comments on Unexpected Paper. Two graduate student meetings. Add text from long report to consultancy paper draft (aiming to submit end of month, probably not going to happen). Possibly find an hour for Special Collection Chapter.

Admin: review minutes from early summer meetings. Ensure intern is keeping busy! That may be all I can do.

Fun: one each of a chunk of time reading, drawing, crocheting and playing D&D. Half an hour is enough to be a chunk. More would be good but only D&D is sure to be longer.


maximise archive time, keep focused on grant application (this is a taking soundings trip).



Sunday, 10 September 2023

TLQ The Movie! Location location location (Fall 2023 Week 1)

Excerpt from Assistant producer's diary: Ok, I can do this... I can do this... deep breaths... calm... I AM SOOO EXCITED!!! I cannot believe I get to work with Director X!! This is a production of a lifetime! Sure, the director did yell at all the production staff a bit but that was just because we didn't get the special shipment of fancy truffles in time. And probably because the head carpenter's pet pig carried off her handbag and ate the expensive hand cream... I'm sure it will all go well tomorrow when we leave for our first location shoot... Ooooh must pack my swimming stuff, I hear there is a beach! Ok. Must write very professional, official-sounding e-mail to cast and crew now. (Digs around in shelf for pen...) Oooh, there is the missing box of chocolate that our star actress requested. Wonder how it got here... Is that a pig hoof print on the box...(googles pig hoof print). Yep, definitely pig... cannot deliver those with hoof prints on them... Packaging still intact, I'm eating them now, stress makes me want to eat chocolates! Will put a note in to re-order these..

OK... professional....

Subject: Welcome and production notes

From: Assistant producer

Hello and welcome to all our cast members, artistic and technical staff, and supporting personnel. We are very much looking forward to working with everyone on this independent production of “TLQ: The Movie!”

Production notes for the week: Your trailer requests have all been logged, you should find all the requested items when you check in this week. Please note that not all requests could be accommodated; the request for a stress-relief llama had to be turned down because our set coordinator had an unfortunate experience with one of those on his last production (who knew they could eat scrims?) and threatened to quit if we brought back the llama. To make up for the lack of large ruminants on set we have arranged for everyone to have visiting privileges at the local petting zoo for the duration of the production.

Schedule: We will be spending the first few weeks of filming on location. Our precise location is currently undisclosed for legal reasons but I can tell you that there are a range of accommodations and landscapes in close proximity to our film locations (think coastal but with mountains nearby). Because this is an independent production (aka cheap) we will not be flying anyone back and forth during the location weeks so you need to be prepared to live on-site for a few weeks.

Please fill in the reply form with: 1) your preferred accommodation type (cabin, tent, trailer, yurt, or large shared lodge, or make one up and we can see what we have in the set trailer) and 2) your preferred landscape location, we will do our best to match everyone with their first choices. You should also have a schedule of your daily call times and task at this point, please update that weekly going forward and report on your progress as we proceed. 

Have a great first week on set!

Monday, 4 September 2023

Announcing TLQ: The Movie (2023 session three), week 0

Welcome to the set of TLQ: The Movie, starring participants as themselves. By the way, don't forget to check out the artist Heu Mihi's house book, on display downstairs!


Take two. Welcome to Top Left Quadrant: The Movie, directed by Dame Eleanor Hull, assisted by Daisy, and starring most other participants as themselves. Some weeks we'll be in the studio and at times we'll go on location, so be prepared to hit the road! Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Scheduling details: We'll have the final check-in on 16 December, midterm check-in on 28 October (so long as the appropriate underling remembers to set it up), and will make next week the official first weekly goal-setting post. Make-up and costuming---that is, introductions and setting session goals---can start now. 

As a theme question this week, what essential items are you stars going to demand to have in your trailers, for when you're there taking a break rather than on-set? We'll send the interns out to go shopping---where's the set manager?


Get the set manager over here to collect shopping lists and talk to the interns about organizing the travel trailers. Also the assistant producer---what are you people doing, anyway? We need to make the stars feel at home so they'll look relaxed and natural when they're talking on camera! That doesn't mean crew gets to relax! But we'll take a break before we try for take three. Or maybe we should just leave in the question---I'll look at the rushes later.

Opening text, adapted from earlier iterations!

The format will be the same as ever. We will start setting goals for the session this week. Goals can be in any aspect of life, although the key focus is often writing tasks that are personally and professionally important but that never quite tip over into important AND urgent. Urgent things sometimes find their way in here too; that is completely okay, and process goals are also most welcome. Each week there will be a discussion topic or prompt to write about if you feel so inclined, but skip it (sulk in your trailer!) if you don't feel like it. We’ll remind everyone of their big session goals about midway through the session, so we can do re-takes as necessary, or let some footage hit the cutting-room floor, before it's the last minute.

Anyone, whether new to the group or an old friend, is welcome to join. I would love for people to consider inviting a friend or acquaintance or colleague to join in: we would be thrilled to welcome new guests and expand our circle. And finally, don't worry if you miss a few check-ins. Life happens. This is a supportive, generous space with no intimidation factor so enjoy it! If you are not up to regular check-ins we would still love to hear from you occasionally.

Saturday, 2 September 2023

The house-book, in pictures

Hello all,

This is not meant to detract from the intercession post, but I did want to share pictures of my house-book before we got into the next session, and I don't seem to be able to post pictures in the comments. So please bear with me!

I also want to say that I feel like I wasn't very connected this past term, or at least the past month or so. Life felt very off-schedule. I hope to check in and read what you all have been up to (which is very much my favorite part of this group) much more often this fall.


I have many pictures. I tried to upload a video of me actually opening it, but it didn't work.

To review the process: I bound (and decorated) the pages; I gilt the pages (which I regret, for it was very messy and took a long time, but at least it came out okay); I constructed the house out of book board; I glued on wall paper and plants and curtains; I needle-felted the cat in the cat bed; I made a bed out of a twig; I sewed a little mattress (matches the curtains!); I knit the quilt; I constructed a bookcase out of book board; and I made "books" out of bits of book board and scraps of leather. The carpets are from some fancy papers. I also cut out pictures to put on the walls, and "framed" them by gluing them onto brown paper.

The dormer window was an unexpected addition, and I'm really happy with how it came out!

So you can see why the silly thing took all summer...and it's only about 6" tall!

Saturday, 26 August 2023

Intercession post

If you feel like checking in about what you're doing (or not doing), ranting about anything, or otherwise sharing with the group, here's your chance. 

Daisy and DEH will put up an introductory post next weekend, with the first weekly goal-setting post the weekend after that (post-Labo[u]r Day, for North Americans). We can tell you there will be a theme-story, and it involves travel. Participants can treat it either literally---play along with the story and deal with goals separately---or allegorically---match story elements to your goals.

Or you can ignore the theme if you just aren't feeling imaginative.

I hope that whets your appetite for the third and final session of 2023! Encourage your friends to join us. Former members will be gladly welcomed back!

Monday, 14 August 2023

Session 2, week 14: the end!

Hello everyone!

This session has flown by, and it's now final check-in. For those in the US, next academic year is ramping up. For those of us in the UK, there is still time before teaching starts, but it is looming.

For a final prompt, let's reflect on the session, but be kind to ourselves. Life throws curveballs at us, goals are just that: goals. Something to aim for, but no shame if we don't get there, or if we decided on the way that actually other goals were preferable. We all have far too much to manage: we wouldn't be here if we didn't. So kindness above all, and let's make sure to reward ourselves for what we have accomplished. Thanks to JaneB for co-hosting and to everyone for checking in and sharing ideas and tips. See everyone in September!

Last week

Dame Eleanor

 continue Latin translation
- finish additions to Alms chapter
- finish planning grad reading schedule
- start planning undergrad classes
- do some Blackboard building
- visit at least one more gym; join one
- buy bookshelves
- do something with old friend who is due in town midweek
- read book for book group


1. Order scans
2. Read a book for review
3. Look through some primary sources to find examples for article.
4. Book accommodation for research trip.
5. Submit purchase requests to library
6. Make appointments (hairdresser, optician's)
7. More kitchen project
8. Nephew's birthday present.


1. Get home and re-settled
2. Draft syllabi, put welcome page up on course website etc.
3. Plan events for incoming grad students
4. For Famous Author, order needed books on Interlibrary Loan. (I love ILL. Just saying...)
5. Read what I've done so far, make sure style is consistent
6. Read article that is long overdue for journal.
7. See friends, do something nice


On vacation!


** Self-care: Do at least seven small things to improve my environment. Do at least an hour in total on sorting out my financial paperwork chaos. Move intentionally 5-10 minutes a day. Sort out Uncle's birthday mailing.
** Work. Check work email no more than once a workday outside of work day. Approve meeting minutes from last academic year. Check in about the move. Start last required training course. Send email to schedule meeting about conference next year.
**** Work - teaching - feed back to all MSc students on the text they've sent. Check timetable, and pencil in my diary (since my classes are different every week). Review August timetable and aim to assign one day per first semester module for prep work (five modules if I group the second and third year skills ones where I teach basically the same content with different case studies for different cohorts of students - all are team taught to some degree). Mark late resits.
**** work - research: go through draft supplementary information for Very Overdue Paper. Work on the draft for consultancy paper.
Make thing for Oddball Paper & send off.
** Fun. Play D&D AND do some D&D planning. Finish one fiction book, continue one non-fiction. Crochet some rows on the grounded blanket. Draw something. Add to summer wish list for non- work days. watch a movie.

Heu mihi

1. Finish content of proceedings essay (citation formatting to come later)
2. Start freezing tomato products (12 tartlets and at least one big batch of sauce)--we picked up about 100 pounds of tomatoes down in Pennsylvania
3. Finish formatting and print anniversary book pages
4. Move offices (Friday)

Session goals


Submit 2 papers based on conference talks from this week
Do analysis and write my part of joint local paper
Field work with 2 students
Garden project TBD
Vacation and regular fun with kid

Dame Eleanor

- Expand an article into a chapter
- Cut down a chapter section into a conference paper
- Make progress on another chapter OR preliminary work towards spring sabbatical project
- Work with library colleague on new project*
- Prep fall classes
- Do some sewing/alteration projects
- Get some house/garden tasks done
- Unpack the boxes in the garage
- House re-organization as necessary to accommodate box contents . . .
- Sleep enough, exercise appropriately (consider joining a gym), enjoy the warm weather.


1. I am co-editor for a massive collaborative project. We've still got some first drafts to receive from the 31 commissioned; we have to write an introduction; and the whole thing needs to be submitted next March. So the goal for this session is to finish first drafts & draft introduction.

2. Famous author: I have finished the draft of a very short book on a very famous author, and have comments on it. If the world smiles on me, I want to look at the comments and do revisions. In a perfect world I'd send it to publishers later this summer.

3. Book prize. I am on the committee for a major book prize, and that requires reading about 20 books in the first round and then another 15 or so in the second round. First round readings need to be done by the end of June...

Goals: Admin
Be ready for the start of the fall semester.

Goals: life
1. Be present with my mother as much as possible
2. Do nice things for myself

Heu mihi

1. Chapter 2 (draft by end of May/early June)
2. Chapter 4 (if not draft, plan and get ready for fall writing). Accept that actually drafting chapter 4, whose contents I haven't exactly figured out yet, may be an unreasonable expectation and result in the production of total garbage.
3. Plan fall course, which is entirely new
4. Proceedings essay--this should be easy, since I'm not planning to make many changes to the conference paper that it's growing out of
5. Promotion review--should also be relatively easy, since I've already read (and reviewed) the book of the person I'm evaluating
6. Make pages for silly handmade book project--more about this below
7. Intentionally take two weeks entirely off???? --We'll see.


1) self-care: the usual. Building & maintaining good habits, improving my environment, my ongoing wrestling with the healthcare system for diagnoses.
1a) getting back on top of my personal finances (I am embarrassed to admit that I know I pay into a savings thingie every month but I can't remember who with, never mind any of the details about the type of thingie. Which is of course why I have direct debits set up in the first place because I am scatty, but... cringe).
2) Researcher; things which need to happen
2a) poor abandoned multi-author paper
2b) paper with senior grad student
2c) wish-we-never-started-project (ends this summer)
2d) paper using consultancy work (led by the people we did the work for which is nice)
2e) submit a grant application (for my KPIs - fortunately I'm a partner on several, so one might get submitted this summer)
and I also want to take some time to read and think about who I am as a researcher and who I want to be for the next decade or so.
3) Teaching:
3a) summer teaching duties
i) supervising two PhD students
ii) preparing for an MSc by Research student who will start in the Autumn (in an area related to what I do, but I need to do some reading around!)
iii) supervising an unknown (small) number of taught MSc student projects on unknown topics (usually these are assigned in March - this year it will be "sometime soon" and there are a LOT of students and a three line whip about everyone taking some on. Sigh! Makes taking proper breaks extra difficult).
3b) preparing for next year.
i) establish what I will actually be teaching
ii) putting together a "skills resource" for higher level students which makes it easier for them to find handouts etc. from their first year courses when they learnt specific skills or topics
iii) getting on top of what my 'new' administrative role ACTUALLY needs from me - I've been almost 100% reactive this year.
4) fun. I know fun is self-care, but it's also just FUN. So every week I want to do at least one thing I can point at and say that was FUN, working up to something every day on any day I have off. Some things that count as fun:
4a) book and TAKE leave
4b) crochet - finish "Lithrops blanket", make an anigurumi, start a new simple blanket project
4c) read things (whilst social media etc. are very good escapism/mild disassociation, reading can do the same thing but in a quieter mode).
4d) do things with words (fiction, poetry, journalling, blogging - non-work things with words always used to be my happy place, so maybe spending time there will bring that back...
4e) dungeons and dragons (playing with Nibling and their friends, and I'd like to try out some different ways of playing with different people & maybe get involved in another long-running game but that depends a lot on how well I am doing mentally/socially - I might not have the energy - in which case I can replace that with reading about D&D and preparing extra materials which will make it quicker to play in term time (basically potter around in my elaborate fantasy city and world settings)).


1. Grant application. The main aim is to get to archives, do background reading and be in a position to apply for funding that would enable the big project I want to do. So honing research questions, and thinking about project design.
2. Writing. Not sure what form this will take, but want to keep some form going alongside the other stuff, because I will feel happy if I do. So adding bits to articles, crafting the grant application (though that's a harder form of writing).

1. Ongoing PhD students: give them the time they are entitled to, which is not always the same as what they want/need. I have three currently
(a) Dream student - works hard, great project, has just gone part-time so deadline has been extended, absolute joy.
(b) Bright but needy student - works hard, ok project, tends to ask for more meetings that current amount of written work and stage really need, and my co-supervisor tends to say yes, grrr.
(c) Pain in the neck student - should be finishing in the next few months, is very slow with writing the actual thesis instead of trying for journal articles that are mostly mud-slinging at big names. Does have good project, but never listens to my feedback. Suspect he will become a problem and need to avoid having my time sucked away.
2. New module for next year - am going to try to postpone this to the next session so it doesn't distract. Future me may curse present me, but I think this is one ball I may as well place gently on the ground.

I have some large projects (new kitchen, bathrooms) and lots of medium projects i.e. things that aren't huge in terms of money or time but still require me to find someone to do a job/buy some equipment/give up a weekend. There are far too many for one session so:
1. Medium/largeish garden projects, since it's summer (or find new gardener - old one only mowed the lawn and I can get kid to do that for much less money)
2. Sort finances
3. One or two medium other projects e.g. framing pictures for my study.
4. Start one big project (emphasis on 'start' and 'one').

Life/self care
1. Holiday already booked in a couple of weeks! Next year Kid 1 has important exams, so travel will need to be reduced.
2. Read good books
3. Try to establish better sleep habits.
4. Start HRT and see if it works
5. Try to reduce the high cholesterol I have recently been told I have 😢 - so exercise, diet.

6. Find dentist.
7. Overall, try for more balance, being more present with the kids and less stressed. Emphasis on try.