Thursday, June 18, 2009

First real live interview

Well, I feel like my research is really taking off now. I've just done my first 'real live' interview. That is, not a pilot, but real data I'm going to use to develop the findings.

I was a bit nervous, and I blathered a bit at the start. But apart from that it went very well.

I have spent most of the day transcribing the interview. 25 minutes worth. It wouldn't have taken all that time except that transcribing is very intense work, and I couldn't do it for extended periods at a time. I had to take a lot of breaks.

Too much time hunched over the computer. Too much 'brain strain', listening closely to get every nuance down. And actually, quite a lot of typing (5000 words).

I have 11 more interviews, plus about 6 centre/school interviews, and other data collection, to go.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

45 rules for life

I was sent this list via my mum and her cousin Gavin. I don't normally share these things, but this one sparkles.

Attributed to Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland ,

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey
is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God
never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is
up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for
an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't
save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will
this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did
or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

New laptop

I've got a new laptop.

I have had a loptop for the past two years for Playcentre Federation work, and it's been a life saver - meaning I could be away from home without having to abandon my other work, and get Playcentre work done in an efficient way. (Increasing productivity - that'll please Bill English!) That Playcentre laptop will be passed on to another Federation Officer who needs a computer.

But this laptop is my own, and is research dedicated. It has been purchased with the help of the University. (Thank you VUW.) They are supposed to give masters and phd thesis students a range of resources to support their study, and it's the first time I've got anything from the Minimum Resourse Agreement, apart from free machine coffee in the staffroom at uni.

Bern has set up the applications, and I'm just setting up the settings the way I like them. And trying to find new keystroke combinations, 'cos using a touch-pad instead of a mouse is a pain in the neck. (Actually, just seeing the 'pointy thing' on the screen is a pain - must find a bigger 'pointer'.)

The laptop has quite a wide screen, and I think is bigger than my last one. So it's not one of the really slim-line ones. But it is the cheapest one we could find that would meet the specs required to get the subsidy, and would do what I want. It has the bonus that it comes with a Windows XP 'down-grade'! (Yes, I still perfer XP.)

I've just found a cool keystroke combination that lets me increase the size of what is on the screen at will, and this works well as it's a wide screen, so I can get it quite big without losing too much off the side of websites. (You can set up your screen to always make things large print, but this lets you change it up or down at a keystroke.)

Am also setting up my favourite websites.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2nd pilot interview complete

I've been out this evening doing the 2nd pilot interview for my research.

I interviewed this mother about 7 weeks ago, but she couldn't be included in the research because there was too little time before her children (twins) started school. And I don't think I quite had approval to proceed from the University ethics committee.

So, she is the one I have been practicing my questions on, and making sure the recorder works, and getting feedback from.

It has been great hearing how her kids have gone at school. And the different angles of the transition as experienced by her, and to a lessor extent the others in the family.

It makes me more confident that I am asking the right things, and my interview technique is ok, and that the research is going to produce some useful material to analyse.

I have a 'real life' interview on Wednesday, and then next one is next Monday. Bring it on!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I've just joined Facebook.

This is chiefly to keep up with what Katie and Rowena are up to. It appears that K doesn't use her page much - from comments on it. Rowena hasn't accepted me as a friend yet. (That sounds sad.)

I expect she just hasn't checked her e-mail. (I hope...)

Update: It's Monday night and now I have 18 friends. That's almost enough to have a party. AND... some of them are grown-ups! (Which is more than I expected from Facebook.

Blogs can take over your life.

Well, obviously not this one. At a rate of one post every 2 weeks (is that being too generous?), and even if it takes 10 minutes to write a post (which is usually doesn't), keeping this blog up would take less than 4 hours a year. Mind you, that's quite a lot more when you divide it by the number of loyal readers I have (very few).

No, reading other people's blogs can take over you life if you let it. And some of them, I think, must take a lot more time to write, given that they have new posts every day - or several times a day.

I try not to do too much of it, but when a friend sends me a link to an interesting post, then I inevitably also read other posts, and follow links to other sites, and links to other blogs as well. Sometimes you get useful information that way, but mostly you get late for bed. (And tired the next morning.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ancient study

We have been going through some of the boxes stored in the roof space (and throwing most of the junk out!), and I came across a file box of notes from my high school and university (the first time!) days.

I've just been reading through some of them. Talk about ancient history! It's like an archeological dig.

There are maths and English papers from the 6th form, so I have put a couple aside to show Rowena and Katie. It's hard to believe the crappy cyclo-styled notes/handouts we were supposed to read.

And I also found some music papers from first year university, back in 1986. We wrote essays by hand (joined-up writing too!), in single spacing, with cut out bits of stave paper for the music examples inserted into the text. With selotape! I don't much like reading hand writing (except for personal letters, mum!) as it takes twice as long. So I'm jolly glad I wasn't a tutor who had to mark my essays.

(Rowena is doing 5th form music, and her compositions are written out in print quality using a basic music manuscript computer program - so you can actually read the music!)

Oh the joys of word processors and printers. It doesn't necessarily make your ideas any better. But at least you can read them without struggling over the hand writing.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Literature Review

My main work this year is writing my masters thesis. This is a piece of original research, and involves a written report of 40,000 words.

(Say it quickly and it won't seem so many!)

As we are coming up to the mid point of the year, you'd think that I might be coming up to word number 20,000 - but no. It doesn't work like that because I have to spend the first 3/4 of the year figuring out what to say, and the last 3 months saying it (at break neck speed, I suppose).

And, in fact, 'the year', only started in February, so I've technically only had 4 months (just over). That's 1/3 of a year. Still, it would be nice to have done 13,000 words at this stage. But still, no, I haven't.

What I have done in the last couple of weeks is start writing my literature review. This should be about 5000-7000 words, and it is basically a sifting and sorting of what everyone else has had to say about my field of enquiry, leading on to why I should be researching this area in the first place.

I've got about 5000 words, which I feel is a good effort so far, and it's not finished yet.

So, how do you write a lit review?

Well, what I have done is read-and-take-notes, read-and-take-notes, etc, for months.
Then read-my-notes, read-my-notes, and,
group-and-sort, group-and-sort.

Finally, take chunks of notes that have been grouped and sorted, and write them up into paragraphs which, hopefully, have some coherence for the (interested!) reader, and (maybe) also bring through some of my opinions on the relevance and quality of the literature.

The trouble is, it's very hard to start writing things. I'm much better at the middle sections than the introductions and so on. So when I go back to look at what I've done, the first bits are a bit discouraging... And I still have some of the hardest bits to write...

(It makes me feel better to know you care!)

Still, I've got a meeting with my supervisor on Wednesday, so at least I've got some proof that I've been busy.

Oh, well. Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Playcentre Conference

Well, it has been a busy weekend. We have had Playcentre Conference from Thursday afternoon to lunch on Sunday, in Hamilton.

It's always great fun going to these events, as it's so good to catch up with people who have become old friends. I arrived on a shuttle from the airport with several other delegates just before tea on Thursday, so everyone was grouping in the bar and lining up for the buffet meal, and there were old friends wherever I turned.

Quite a lot of significant work was done during the weekend.

  • The Minister of Education opened the conference, and she was grilled on her governments support for parent-led education. Actually, she did a good job of 'speaking to her audience'.
  • There were a number of really excellent speakers, including Professor Winiata, who is a well known academic and also the President of the Maori Party, Haydn Olsen, speaking on resolving conflict, and Dr Sally Peters, speaking on some research she is involved with in Canterbury Association.
  • (I was pleased to meet Sally Peters, as I have been referencing her work in my writing over the past year and a half.)
  • I launched my new book - Making Music Together.
  • We had a good range of workshops. I presented one, on my research into transition to school.
  • Election of officers for the Federation - oh yes, I became the Vice President.
  • Really good Saturday night entertainment - a re-make of 'It's in the Bag', with lollies instead of money, and Kiwiana themed questions and prizes. ("I'll give you 3 lollies or the bag.... a handful of lollies or the bag.... ) (Actually, everyone got the bag, even if they scored a few lollies.)
  • (I won a picnic carry bag and set.)
  • A fantastic closing performance from a Maori dance/drama group.