Mar 22, 2010

Generation Me

Videos on the net are very "Generation Me". A brief moment on YouTube makes it evident that today's youngsters are just not shy about taping themselves and sharing the result with the world. 

Although I don't often like to think about getting old and generation gaps, I must admit that I never found the idea of video taping appealing. In general. Even just to show to bore your friends afterwards, the way we used to with photo slides. And then there is always the fear of tripping clumsily and ending up on "America's Funniest Videos" or equivalents in other cultures. 

I never thought much about it. I simply assumed that I'd never have to use this medium in my lifetime. After all, I can get by with emails, pictures and simply lecturing at my students.

Unfortunately, our media department has other ideas. As does the chair of our department. And the head of sustainability. From three sides, I've been bombarded with requests to do interviews. Not only in the form of written articles subjected to questionable editing, but also in the form of videos that are splashed all over our university website. 

Today, the result of 45 minutes of talking my throat raw were revealed. And though I figured they'd cut me down to a sound-bite or two, I actually seem to occupy a rather large amount of space in this little clip. More surprising (to me): I didn't cringe when I watched myself back. I'm actually a little proud of it. Now I don't know whether to attribute that to a job well down on being articulate (if slightly bobble-headed), or to the fact that I've quite simply become used to seeing things in video format.

Mar 20, 2010

St Paddy's Day and all that

If we'd thought to get off lightly with just the anti-police violence last weekend, we were wrong. On Sunday we went to a movie theatre in the centre of town, and found our way barred when we tried to leave. The police had cordoned off an entire two blocks of St. Catherine's street and we soon found out that someone had died trying to celebrate St. Paddy's. Apparently a 19-year old high school student jumped off a float, and promptly fell under it. The driver failed to notice and drove over him, squashing him to death. Gruesome weekend, I'll say. And a said ending for what was essentially just a guy getting drunk during the St Paddy's day parade.

The rest of the week was more or less uneventful. Hubby and his business partner went to Toronto to drum up some work, and so it was another week of me and the pets. I had dinner and lunch with my best Montreal buddy a few times and just worked very hard the rest of the time. Got quite a bit done at work this week, but not nearly enough. My eye is on the end of March, which leaves but one measly month for me to make a final research push before I have to get back to grips with teaching ... 

Mar 14, 2010


A busy week. Filled with meetings and writing. I got the first part of the paper done this week and am super-excited about it. A friend has agreed to read it through so let's hope it passed the "friendly peer review" test. If so, then it'll be ready to forward to my co-author. 

This progress means that writing is over for now and the data stage is moving in. Shifting gears is always a challenge so I spent the latter part of the week getting a bunch of admin done to clear my desk (and head). I'm ready to take on the data tomorrow, and no doubt, for the next 4 weeks.

We had a guest speaker this week on sustainability, and sustainability champion awards. All of which added up to a hectic Thursday and Friday. Topped by an arrival of a friend on Friday night. He was delayed until the wee hours of the morning, so hubby took on the task of airport runs while I caught up on some much needed sleep.

Of course, little did I know I'd be interrupted soon after by a serious of loud crashes outside of my apartment. We have a parking lot outside where many police cars reside. I had always assumed it was because some kind of police station was inside the building next to us. Well, on Friday night (Saturday morning), someone decided that police cars didn't deserve to have any windows and smashed them all in!!

I was pretty sleepy but woke up with the repeated smashing. But by the time my brain caught up with me enough that I got up to peek out the window, the deed was done and the person was gone. It was too dark for me to see what had happened and while I thought it was the car windows that were smashed, I couldn't tell. I went back to catch up with the rest of my shut-eye.

It wasn't until the next morning that I realized that so many windows had been smashed in, including the windows to the (presumed) police station. Plus some spray paint to boot. Seems like someone had a real issue with the police "FTP" being the words of the day. Media vans everywhere; detectives with cell phones; trucks that picked up the cars; men that swept the parking lot; other men that took out the windows in the building. It was a whole day affair. I even got interrogated by some rookie police officers about what I heard (and was duly chastised for not dialing 911 on the spot ... what was I supposed to do? I thought that there would be some police officers in the police station!).

Excitement all round. The day was further filled with more spring skiing and a smashing dinner in the evening. I was truly pooped from all the excitement and slept wonderfully last night - without interruption. After all, there are no car windows left to smash, and ours is safely parked indoors.

Mar 9, 2010

Most improved

I am continuing to write this week and starting to ebb into a zone of saturation. It's not so much the writing but more to do with reading. Each paragraph I write takes about 3 or 4 hours just because of the citations I need to put in place. It's a little faster if I know what I'm going to argue. I that case, I just search for some relevant papers and intersperse some cites. But sometimes I have a notion of what I want to say, but when I start to read around the topic, I find something better or an interesting tangent that I have to consider.

As a result, it's easy to get lost along this path of writing. In the past, that would have set me off on several days (or weeks or even months) of going down a tangent only to find it was all a waste of time and I should have stuck with my instincts. But I think my instincts are getting better. I'm improving.

This morning was an example of that improvement. I wrote up some stuff yesterday. I wasn't really that happy with what I'd written but I couldn't put my finger on why. Then, this morning - maybe while I was still waking up or during my shower or breakfast, or perhaps while walking the dog - I got an insight. I was going in the wrong direction and really should be writing the work slightly differently.

Rather than take my instincts for granted (they're still not that finely honed after all, as a mentor would likely remind me), I called a good friend and colleague. Someone I trust to tell me what I'm doing is right or wrong, and where the most compelling story is, and the most straightforward argument. In the end, all that was needed was for me to talk through it with someone. I solved my own problems. My friend simply was there to confirm what I was doing was right.

It's an improvement. I've only "wasted" half a day going in the wrong direction. And much of it I can use in another part of the paper. 

Now for the next section: I anticipate 2 days work. Ugh. Soon I can do data stuff again!

Mar 7, 2010

Sunny days

In contrast to Cuba last week, Montreal has been nothing but sunny all this week. It's managed to give the city a very spring like feeling, although it's still below zero and snow patches remain throughout the city. They're melting fast however, to the point where grass is peaking out in our local little park - and by and large it's still somewhat green!

The sun is fantastic and a friend assures me that winters in Montreal are usually as sunny. Since my office faces the southern side of Montreal, I get to experience the pleasure of sun all day long. It's really great since sunshine make me feel really happy. No fears of S.A.D. in this town during the winter!

All that positivity translated into a good work week. I have been writing non-stop, on a paper that has proven to be pretty problematic in the past and carried a lot of negative baggage. It's the paper I presented during my job-talks about a year ago and faced quite a bit of critique. I haven't had the stomach to deal with it since then. But luckily my co-author and I agreed to submit the previous version to a prestigious conference. It got in and so the pressure's on now to "fix" it before May when I will need to present it again -- :S .

The fixing required me to read a lot of new literature on sense-making which has been really interesting. More and more I'm moving into that elusive space between strategy and organizational behavior. Maybe I've been inspired by several key people at Michigan that did the same, especially my mentor. Strategic issues are so much more interesting when you put them into psychological and sociological contexts. No doubt, my years as a post-doc there will have a lasting influence on my academic life.

Can't wait to keep writing next week. Once I'm in the flow, I find I really enjoy it. Although sometimes it can take me a little while to get started. A lot of other work is piling up while I do this, but it will just have to wait a little longer. When the writing and theorizing is over, I'm going to need to crank my data and there's a lot to do!

I'm trying to make the best of the weekends. Hubby is home from NYC and the weather is awesome. We took the dog up the mountain for a walk, and then I went spring skiing with a friend. Awesome day. The snow is "heavy", so my thighs were aching more than usual. But I've never been afraid of a good work out :).

Thinking about booking some trips over the next few months, especially during the summer when things "die down" at the university. Watch this space and keep your fingers crossed that all will work out.