Fifty minutes to productivity


Though I have purchased a couple of Tim Ferriss‘s books, typically I don’t subscribe to shortcuts and hacks and so forth for increasing productivity, mainly because they never seem to work for me (or, if they do, I can’t make them stick and become habit). However, there is one trick in particular that I learned from my former orthodontist and mentor Dr. Sarah Shoaf, who has more alphabets after her name than anyone else I know, and it has helped me immensely in my efforts to plow through my dissertation proposal, piles of grading, and various other projects. And it’s shockingly simple.

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To strike, or not to strike?

For those of you who are familiar with the goings-on at the University of Oregon, the GTFF 3544 (the union that approximately half of all UO graduate students belong to, particularly if they have teaching assignments) is currently on strike. This article from the Register-Guard does a fairly good job of explaining what’s going on in a nutshell.

However, after carefully thinking it over, I’ve made a decision not to participate in the strike, and I thought I’d try to articulate why.

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Conquering comps

Yesterday I wrote my final comprehensive exam, which essentially marks the midpoint of my pursuit of my PhD in Media Studies. Next week I will defend my answers; my department requires four exams, so there will be questions from my comps committee regarding all four. Assuming that everything goes well, that will advance me to candidacy, and my focus will shift to getting my dissertation proposal approved and writing the actual dissertation.

I wanted to take an opportunity to offer some suggestions to other PhD students who might be facing their exams in the near future. While every discipline and every school varies slightly in terms of what comprehensive exams consist of, they are a universal in terms of earning a doctorate in the United States. Here are the strategies that I used to get ready. Continue reading “Conquering comps”

The history of the restaurant

This past term I was excited to be able to take a course entitled “Food Matters,” which was the first instance that the keystone course for the Food Studies graduate specialization was offered at the University of Oregon.

We had a number of options available as final projects; one of them was a book review that would encompass at least two book-length texts. I used the opportunity to write an abbreviated history of the restaurant; this was based on the books The Invention of the Restaurant by Rebecca Spang and Smart Casual by Alison Pearlman. The former focuses on the first restaurants that emerged in Paris in the 18th century; the latter looks at the changes that have occurred in American restaurants since the mid-1970s.

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Reading, reading, reading

Now that the spring term at UO has come to a close (finally!), we’re all getting just a tiny bit of a break before the summer session begins. I, myself, will be teaching Friday lab sessions for our Gateway I/II course along with another GTF, but I am also taking a course in the Education Studies department and will be doing some reading credits, as well as attempting to finish a couple of articles to be submitted for publication.

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New term, new ideas

Well, a brand new term has begun here at the University of Oregon, and just two days in I’m already encountering nifty little nuggets of wisdom and information that I’d never encountered or considered before. (Quick side note that is directly related to this: I’m taking four courses this term–yikes–so my postings here through March may be even more infrequent than usual, but let’s hope that isn’t the case.)

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Conference me in

One of the two courses that I’m required to take in my first quarter as a PhD student at the SOJC is entitled Teaching & Professional Life (interestingly enough, it’s being taught by my advisor, Kim Sheehan). The intent of the course is to help us see that, in addition to being a good teacher, a professor is expected to always have something in the “publication pipeline.”

I’m mildly shamed to admit that, save for my Master’s thesis (which I finished in 2008), I’ve not really had much of anything else published–and I’m certainly not counting the “humor” columns that I wrote for my college newspaper. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that part of the expectation included with being a PhD student is that you are supposed to publish papers, either in journals or at conferences.

There’s just one problem: Since I’ve never done that (writing a thesis is a pretty cut-and-dry, prescribed sort of procedure), I had no idea where to start.

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