the grid

the grid

Sunday 9 February 2020

Week 5: setting

Since some of you were looking forward to travel, let's think about setting: are you/your character stuck in one place, or do you have different settings to describe? I notice that my story is very light on setting. Apparently I'm relying on readers to fill in what a professor's office looks like. Do you notice the details of your actual, physical place in the world? Or do you run on autopilot? Would it help any of your goals to change the venue?

Here are last week's goals; let us know how you did, and what your new goals are.

1) Finish conference talk (have no choice, conference is on weekend!)
2) Spend at least an hour a day working on big fancy future talk – trying again
3) Do figures for chosen paper
4) Go for at least 2 runs during week
5) Have a blast at regional conference, my favourite of the year!

Dame Eleanor Hull
Daily stretching, exercise, 8 hours sleep.
Finish and send article.
New memo to GD, apply for a thing.
Grade new set of short-ish papers; write syllabus (due dates, mainly) for independent study; update online quizzes.
Finish dealing with all the stacked-up mail.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

Go to two doctors’ appointments.
Schedule the next doctors’ apppointments.
Keep up with class.
Edit the first three pages of Illumination.
Create outline for Dial.
Break down Illuminated and Dial into constituent parts.

heu mihi
1. Read/write four days. (Already missed Monday, so....)
2. Prep and give workshop.
3. Do a little brainstorming/strategizing writing in my research notebook. What do I want to accomplish towards my next project in the next few months? What will it look like if I'm successful?
4. Begin compiling bibliography for Kzoo paper.
5. Travel: Apply for remaining visa, book last hotels, figure out trains, give driver hotel info.

1 submit revised conference prospectus
2 submit article review
3 write essay for online writing course
4 write 1000 words for OKC
5 keep up with grading
6 watch film for short essay

1) take one day COMPLETELY OFF this weekend
2) take the time this weekend to clean the kitchen and do meal prep properly, so I have good food to get me through the following week
3) spend an hour with my NaNo writing, because I enjoy it
4) not worry about other research things this week, just put them onto a list for future reference.

-clear 2 boxes (the ones next to the bookshelf)
-start all course F draft documents
-run x 2, yoga x 3. Wondering if I can fit in a weights session somewhere in my schedule because I realise I need to work on upper body strength, but can't see where.
-order wind sock, book in 4 field recording days.
-write up notes from this mornings library trip

1. Writing: 2000 words on famous Author who was famous author
2. Have one or two conversations at library
3. Enjoy the desert
4. Get exercise
5. Have fun

1. Send response to reviewers to PO
2. YRBS paper - take stock.
3. PTSD paper - get started
4. IRIE intro - refine what is there and figure out what is missing.
5. MST abstracts
6. Scoping review R&R
7. LD's aims
8. PlosONE review


  1. “Charlotte, does your mentor, teacher, whatever, know that you’re here? Or is this maybe an independent research project that you started on your own, or with another student?”

    “Apprentice. We’re apprentices.” She sounded a little choky.

    “Sorry. So, independent research?”

    She nodded, even pinker around the nose and eyes now.

    “And you’re hoping to do something that will really impress your supervisor?” I suggested, even more gently and sweetly.

    She burst into tears, right on cue, and I handed over the box of tissues. It’s so much easier, in the long run, to act warm and understanding than to indulge my naturally acid tongue and provoke defiance. But Apollo and Athena, preserve me from the ambitious, bright students who temper their brilliance with flashes of pure idiocy; give me the conscientious plodders every time.

    “Do you have any notes about the worlds you were thinking of visiting and the books you hoped to find?” I asked, when she had blown her nose.

    “Oh, yes,” she said, pulling a notebook from the pink and orange flowered backpack. “Right here!”

    As I suspected, the notes were scrawled in large, careless writing, and said things like “α 8137 McMurtry High Blue Lonesome,” “γ 317 Trollop Bish of Barsh,” and “A 713 J Troll Girls & Men.”

    “Here’s what I think you should do, Charlotte,” I said, carefully avoiding “we.” “It’s getting late, and it seems you’ve had quite a day. I’ll show you the student lounge; you can make tea there, and there’s a couch where you can sleep if you avoid the janitors. That might mean leaving and coming back, but you’ve shown you can open the door if it’s locked, so that won’t be a problem. The LRU library is open until midnight.” I picked up a copy of The Craft of Research. “It has at least a couple of copies of this, different editions; I suggest that you spend some time reviewing good note-taking habits.”

    “What about i.d. and money and stuff? The Librarian-in-Residence is supposed to supply a packet with information for visiting Librarians.”

    1. I love this--Craft of Research, indeed! Charlotte's notes look distressingly familiar, I have to say. As for plodders, an irascible Classics professor once told me that Horace talked about swans and bees, and that I was a bee. I cried bitter tears, but only after I got back to my apartment--I so wanted to be a research swan!

    2. Huh. My first thought was that swans look serene but are paddling furiously underwater, whereas bees have a nicer time, but I suppose your prof meant this bit:

      Son of Antony, a powerful breeze raises
      the Dircean swan, whenever it’s carried
      to cloudy heights. While I create my verses,
      in the manner
      of a humble Matinian bee, that goes
      gathering pollen from all the pleasant thyme,
      and labours among the many groves, on the banks
      of flowing Tiber.

      I still think the bee has a nicer life.

    3. Yes, that's the quotation. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and lost my yearning to be a swan long ago. He was denigrating my interest in manuscript history and translation, which this bee still happily pursues, thank you very much.

    4. What a silly man. Where would classicists be without people who work on manuscripts? How many of their texts were rescued from palimpsests under Christian writings? I don't think he thought through his similes at all.

  2. Topic:
    I find writing setting far easier than dialogue, although I am assuming in this case that my readers can imagine what library stacks and rare books vaults look like. I need to work on balancing the two a bit better.

    In real life, I am not at all good about changing my setting, even when it would benefit my research and writing. A change of venue would help because I can often force myself to work on new habits in new surroundings; it is too easy to fall into old habits in the same venues.

    Several words washed across the door, disappearing before I could read them, but left an old-fashioned, round lock behind. I put the key in the lock. Although the key fit, and turned, the door did not unlatch. I thrust my fingers in the small cracks outlining the door, straining to open the panel. I felt something give, only to crack the nail on my middle finger below the quick. “Tabernacle!” I cursed, remembering to switch to Canadian French, as I heard someone approaching.

    My student was in the aisle a couple of shelves away. Grabbing my finger, I strode quickly to the aisle. “Hey, Jess, did you finish searching that shelf?”

    “Yeah, I need to get to class, but I wanted to tell you that I need more books. Um, your hand’s bleeding. Are you okay?”

    “Ah, damn. I’m fine--just caught my nail on a shelf, and it stings far more than warranted. Have a good class, and I’ll see you Wednesday.”

    Jess smiled and turned back to the door. “Just don’t bleed on any of the books.”

    “I wouldn’t dare,” I said, my mind chasing the thought. Once Jess had gone through the stacks to the reading room, I turned back to the mysterious door.

    Putting my key in the keyhole, I put my hand flat on the door. “Mostrez.”

    The words chased across the door again, but gleamed when they hit the blood from my hand. I dragged my injured finger across the door, chasing the words and letters until they drifted into a shimmering line. “Jo requers un gote de sanc.”

    “You’ve already gotten more than a drop.” Gingerly, I tried the seam of the door. It didn’t budge. I extracted my key, smeared a drop of blood on the blade, and put it back in the lock. The key turned as it had before, but now the door swung open. I turned on my phone flashlight to look into the cavity. A volume bound in limp vellum lay on a shelf. Mindful of Jess’ admonition, I reached in with my uninjured hand.

    Last week’s goals:
    Go to two doctors’ appointments. Yes.
    Schedule the next doctors’ apppointments. One down, one to go.
    Keep up with class. Yes, despite the quantitative segments--with formulae, yikes!
    Edit the first three pages of Illumination. Yes.
    Create outline for Dial. Begun, at least.
    Break down Illuminated and Dial into constituent parts. Yes.

    I appreciate everyone’s links to productivity hints. Yesterday, I ran across a youtube video that struck a chord. I have followed this guy for several years--here he talks about looking at themes for improvement rather than New Year’s resolutions. We have talked a lot here about having theme words for session goals, so I wanted to share his thoughts. Link.
    I plan to come up with a theme for the session, which I will share once I’ve worked through it. The post-it notes with three things to do each day is going well--it feels good to know that things are getting done that often fall off the map.

    Next week’s goals:
    Finish peer review.
    Read three articles for class paper.
    Draft the first presentation.
    Call the co-editor to discuss scope.

    Writing from a sleety, snowy, upstate New York, I will quote the state motto, “Excelsior.” Float like mist, everyone.

    1. Ow, ow, ow. But at least you didn't have to do the cutting yourself.

      And look at all that "yes" for the week!

    2. So jealous of your snow! Since I moved to NYC, I never feel like I get winter anymore!!!

    3. I'm often surprised by how much less winter NYC gets, Waffles. Just a shortish drive away, and the season changes!

  3. Goals from week 2:
    Mark the articles, reflective diaries, group project reports - DONE
    Finish arranging, and run the staff coffee thing - DONE
    Tidy up after the outreach event - DONE
    Write feedback on student questionnaires - NOPE
    Finish course admin and first session teaching materials for sustainable module, rearrange first teaching session as attending funeral. - DONE
    Write presentation for conference - DONE
    Try to survive several meetings - DONE
    Do expenses for external examining, outreach, conference - DONE

    It's been a hectic couple of weeks, travel for family and for conference, then trying to fit back into teaching mode while finishing mark processing from semester 1 and dealing with semester 2. But I need to get back on track now! I've done other stuff in the last couple of weeks but it has taken me three weeks to get through most of this.

    This coming week:
    - prepare reading lists in new format
    - prepare teaching materials for polymers session 1
    - prepare assessment guidelines for article assessment
    - mark group projects, send materials off for moderation
    - resubmit student ethics after final edit, watch student presentations
    - aim for 30 minutes per day on professional development application
    - collate sustainability paperwork
    - aim for 2 x 2 hours of data analysis for engagement project
    - work on draft of sustainability paper ( 2 hours minimum)

    The biggest challenge this week will be grabbing a few blocks of uninterrupted thinking time to tackle the writing/data analysis tasks. Last week ended up being very fragmented, in part I believe because we're currently having a push away from email and towards face-to-face or phone conversations. That's all well and good but it means a lot more interruptions and my concentration and energy reserves take a hit. Generally though, I feel like I'm swimming against the tide a bit at the moment, so weary of all the stuff. If I can feel productive in a research/publications way, I think that will help. Feeling productive in a teaching/assessing/student way is good but it's been the major focus for a couple of weeks and I need a change of tune.

    1. I've also largely given up coming up with clever names for projects. I just kept forgetting what everything was so I'm sticking to simple names!

    2. You got a lot done, even if it did take longer than you thought. My university is big on the "open-door" policy, which impacts one's ability to dive deep into complex thinking. I think being available has to be coordinated with whatever works best for one's own thought process, and I contemplate best in a quiet cave. All the best to finding that quiet time and feeling productive in a research way.

    3. I'm sorry I forgot to look for hold-over goals! Thanks for showing up and reporting on yours.

    4. We're currently in the midst of a heated debate between administrators and faculty. We were told to double our in-office office hours so students could come and meet with us. Now I have a big block of time one day a week where I sit in my office and do grading and catch up on things in utter isolation. Could I do this just as well from home? Of course.

  4. It would be nice to tidy up both my offices, home and work. Any time now I'll finish off the dratted essay and return a huge batch of books, which will make it much easier to tidy at home. At work, I'm supposedly moving offices, but haven't had much time to actually move anything. Sigh.

    How I did:
    Daily stretching, exercise, 8 hours sleep. MOSTLY. Sleep remains iffy, but I'm mostly putting in 8 hours in bed.
    Finish and send article. ALMOST. I need to groom the footnotes, so it should go this week.
    New memo to GD, apply for a thing. YES, YES.
    Grade new set of short-ish papers; write syllabus (due dates, mainly) for independent study; update online quizzes. NO, YES, NO.
    Finish dealing with all the stacked-up mail. NO.

    Hrrmph. New goals look a lot like the old ones, with greater urgency.
    Daily stretching, exercise, 8 hours sleep.
    Finish and send article; start dealing with queries about Huge Honking Translation; read Thing to which I am soon to be a respondent.
    Grade new set of short-ish papers; update online quizzes; meet with independent study students.
    Finish dealing with all the stacked-up mail; gather tax documents; do some house-market-prep.

    1. Your comment that sleep is iffy covers having to repeat your goals. Lack of sleep is the best demotivator I know.
      My work office is still a work-in-progress so I sympathize.

    2. I cleaned my home office (aka, my bedroom!) last week and it is a mess already. UGH.

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  6. Last week was very rough for me emotionally. I got hit with a one-two punch with bad news related to what I will be doing next year. In short - even if my NIH K is funded, I may not get paid any more than I am now (whereas I was anticipating a more than doubling of my salary). This is a policy my school is considering and discussions are underway about whether I would get grandfathered in. Then my mentor reneged on our backup plans in case my K is not funded. I got all of this news while I was at school - sitting at my desk in an open office and I was just reeling. I basically holed up this weekend, didn't talk to anyone and feel 1000% better. But today I am working from home - the thought of going back in tomorrow makes me ill. I also had some other very stressful things happen. But still, it was a productive week!

    To do last week:
    1. Send response to reviewers to PO - DONE
    2. YRBS paper - take stock. - NOT DONE
    3. PTSD paper - NOT DONE
    4. IRIE intro - DONE
    5. MST abstracts - DONE (over 1000 abstracts!!!)
    6. Scoping review R&R - DONE
    7. LD's aims - DONE
    8. PlosONE review - DONE

    Goals last week shifted a bit because I had a huge motivator to finish up the IRIE paper: a colleague wanted to cite it in a National Academy of Medicine report. So I decided to get it finished and upload it as a pre-print so it could be cited. Thus, the other two papers took a backseat. The benefit of this is that once the paper is fully drafted (by the end of today), I just have to edit it. In my original plan, it wasn't going to get submitted till April, and I think this will make that happen much more quickly. We got a symposium rejection this morning and I am kind of relieved. It's for a conference I don't love that is WAY too long and I did my research budget for the year and I can't afford everything I had planned. I am a bit bummed to not get to present that study though - but I plan to publish it.

    Goals this week:
    1. Finish IRIE paper and send to collaborators (hopefully then edit and post by end of the week).
    2. Talk with E about MST abstracts and resolve conflicts. Plan next steps.
    3. Set L&S team meetings.
    4. Have decent draft of new version of job talk done by Wednesday (meeting with mentor).
    5. Really need to get YRBS paper sent to collaborators this week.
    6. Figure out variables and chunking of variables for IPV paper.
    7. Review something a collaborator sent to me that I am really mad about. :)

    In terms of my setting - when I work from home, I work from my bedroom (desk is in there). This was okay when I lived alone or had a roommate who worked full-time, but since my current roommate is home 24/7, it makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. But working from school is not great since it is an open office and you don't have *any* privacy (or quiet). Roommate sent me his class schedule so I at least know *some* times when I am 100% alone - and hopefully that helps. But I had advertised for someone who wouldn't be here during the workday, so I am just bitter.

    1. That roommate situation would really bother me. I'm sorry! And sorry, too, about the bad news--although it sounds like it might all work out okay? Way to go with IRIE, at any rate!

  7. The extra large can of patented DEH Bugge Spray was wonderful, thank you! And my conference was wonderful as usual, my talk was really good so I was very happy with how it went.
    Last week I again failed completely at working on the still-distant future talk, this one is actually really important for me so I need to find a way to do better with that. I was thinking of doing an early-morning wake-up to try and work/think without distraction? I love sleep but maybe this will be a good jump-start?
    The only thought I have for setting is Ice Cave… sort of reflects what is outdoors right now. No creative inspiration for more than that… This week I’m also marking 165 midterms, so I’ve set aside a few hours every evening (with tv) to do that, so it is kind of a Grading Ice Cave I guess!
    Last week’s goals:
    1) Finish conference talk (have no choice, conference is on weekend!) DONE AND IT WAS AN EXCELLENT TALK
    2) Spend at least an hour a day working on big fancy future talk – trying again FAILED AGAIN
    3) Do figures for chosen paper ONE DONE 9 TO GO (figure goal was unrealistic?)
    4) Go for at least 2 runs during week DONE
    5) Have a blast at regional conference, my favourite of the year! This is in the category of “small achievable goals”… DONE WITH MUCH ENTHUSIASM

    This week’s goals:
    1) Find a way to schedule fancy future talk work every day – try early mornings
    2) Work on figures – pick 3 and done those
    3) Do lab work for upcoming lab trip, fun and rewarding but really really time-consuming…
    4) 2 runs

    1. It's great to hear from someone who had a week worth being enthusiastic about!

  8. Last week was really busy; this week is going to be less so, though I still have two non-ordinary events to manage. Plus I'm teaching an adult Sunday school class on my academic specialty, which is fun but oddly stressful. (Oh, forget it. All teaching is stressful. There! I said it!)

    I'm not entirely clear on how I did with last week's goals, but here's my best guess:
    1. Read/write four days. (Already missed Monday, so….) ?? I think so. At least 3.
    2. Prep and give workshop. DONE
    3. Do a little brainstorming/strategizing writing in my research notebook. What do I want to accomplish towards my next project in the next few months? What will it look like if I'm successful? DONE
    4. Begin compiling bibliography for Kzoo paper. NO
    5. Travel: Apply for remaining visa DONE, book last hotels DONE, figure out trains DONE, give driver hotel info DONE.

    This week:
    1. Read/write 5 days (30 minutes)
    2. Check in with project IN WRITING twice
    3. Quick bibliography for Kzoo
    4. Apply for thing
    5. Send info about promotion recommenders to chair
    6. Use coupon before it expires

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