Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Well, after a hiatus of about 3 1/2 months, I'm back. Sorry for the long absence, but there were other things which required nearly all of my attention. And as much as I enjoy blogging, and I do (I mean, where else can I go off on random, anger-inspired rants about shit no one else really cares about but want to listen to any way . . . besides the Republican National Convention), there are times when you simply have to make priorities and stick to them.

In my case, the biggest and most immediate priority since my last post was that whole getting married 'thing.' Yes, Journey and I have finally married! And we couldn't be happier. There were a few little glitches during the ceremony, but nothing we couldn't deal with and nothing BIG went wrong. That's about the best one can ask for, really. So, a few little snags aside, everything was great. Even the weather worked with us, which was good because we got married and had the reception outside. Tucson is normally in the mid- to high-80s by mid-May (we got married on May 17), which is livable, was still warm. The day of the ceremony it actually topped out in low-80s, and since we had the ceremony early evening, things were absolutely perfect. Not too warm, not too cool, and only a slight breeze. Everyone had a good time, and there weren't any wedding crashers or anything like that (given that this was same weekend as the University of Arizona's graduation, this was actually a bit of a concern).

After the wedding, Journey and I were off on out honeymoon for two weeks. We started with a couple of days in Vancouver, BC (yes, yes, that is in Canada) before getting on a cruise ship and heading up the Inside Passage of Alaska. Journey and her family had done this a couple of years earlier for a family reunion. I wanted to go, but couldn't secure the time off until after the cruise was already all booked. This did NOT make either of us real happy. So, when it came time to plan out honeymoon, she really wanted to go on the cruise again so we could both do it. And that's what we did. We had a great time and saw a ton of cool shit and even had some time to relax, which after the previous few months, we really needed. The cruise ended in Anchorage, where we hand another couple days to just kind of relax and check out the town.

Since we got back, I've been spending most of my time either looking for jobs or preparing for qualifying exams. On the job front, I've had several interviews, even a couple where they've flown me out for a face-to-face. But I haven't been offered anything yet, and it's starting to piss me off. I know times are tough - I did decide to try to enter the job market right as the economy went to to shit, after all - but that still doesn't help much. I know I'll land something eventually, but in the meantime, it sucks.

And then there were my qualifying exams - "quals". These are the final exams of the PhD program before they let start working on your dissertation, taken after you've finished all of your course-work. For my program, the way they work is you are emailed a list of 6 questions. You then have exactly one week to write your responses to 4 of the questions and email them back. Each response is to be 10-12 pages in length, for a total of 40-50 pages. Basically, this is intended to test your ability to speak knowledgeably about your field based on the reading which you've done over the last few years. This is your opportunity to prove that you can pull everything you've learned together and show that you have a broader understanding of everything that going on in the field. This actually harder than you might think. It's entirely doable - you just have to carefully plan it all out and be able to access the information quickly and accurately. After you've finished the writing and emailed it back, you have to wait a couple days to see if you've passed. If you haven't passed one or more of the questions, you have a chance to retake the question, but if you fail again . . . well, let's just say you've effectively wasted a couple years of your life and money. Thankfully, I passed all four questions on the first try. This didn't mean I was done, however. Oh no, not quite. There is also an oral component to quals. You have to sit down in front of your evaluating committee and and talk about what you wrote. Basically, it's intended to make sure you can also present your knowledge when you're put on the spot. The questioning takes about 30-45 minutes, and then you have wait out in the hall while they discuss you.

The waiting sucks far beyond the questioning. Believe me.

I made it, though! So, now I get to start working on my dissertation (more or less - there are still a few hoops jump through, but they're not as bad as the quals).

You can see why I haven't exactly been around to blog in past few months. Like I said, little busy. But now that thing's are going to settle down a little, I hope be able to get back to writing on a more regular basis. And on that note - let the insanity resume!

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