I am finally starting to get things set up the way I want them to be in our new home. It’ll be a long haul, but getting the pantry staples organized was high on the list. Having flour, sugar, grains and pulses in plastic containers is way better than rummaging through a shelf full of plastic bags.
There's a blog that I always enjoy seeing in my reader feed: habit.
Every day each habit contributor posts a photo together with a few words. The words may or may not have anything to do with the picture. I'm operating under the assumption that the picture has to be taken on the date of the post. The pictures are artistic and well composed, and they take notice of the smaller points of life. I like the cleanness and simplicity of the habit posts, as well as the glimpses that they offer into other peoples' experiences. The blog reminds me of a feeling that I strikes me when I am on a busy highway or walking in a crowded street: every single person here is thinking their own thoughts and I can have no idea what is in their minds. To me, it's a reminder to have compassion on others and always try to understand where they are coming from.
If I were doing a habit post (then it would have had a lot fewer words and the photo would be more compelling) for today this would be mine:
hurried out the door this morning so we could walk together. had 2 quick meetings. went to the loo. looked in the mirror while washing my hands and realized I'd forgotten to put on make-up.
The last post that I, Ellie, put up on the ole blog here was about mugs. Seems like a stretch for a blog post topic, doesn’t it? I would say so. I think ‘lack of inspiration’ is sufficient reason to go on a blogging sabbatical. But I also had a good many other things going on.
In June and July, we were dealing with the nasty, moldy after-effects of an apartment flood at our flat. Working with the letting agency to get the problem addressed cost me a great of time and emotional energy. In the end, we were moved into another vacant flat for the final few weeks of our lease.
In August we moved to Texas for the Fall. Packing up again also required quite a lot of my emotional resources. But it was definitely worth it because it was so wonderful to be back in the States for a good chunk of time. From my perspective, the proximity to family and friends was the best part. I got completely spoiled by the fact that I didn’t have to account for a time difference (or much of one, anyway) when making phone calls. I spent three weeks on a grand tour, visiting some of the people I love the very best in the world. I got to see my parents in each of three consecutive months. I automatically knew the stores, where to get things, how to get things done. In short, I just felt at home.
In September, I submitted a dissertation for the Masters degree I’ve spent the last year working on. The degree was in Social Statistics, and in my dissertation I analyzed and wrote about corporal punishment of children in West and Central Africa. To be honest, a lot of what I’ve been thinking about in the past months has been statistics. Sometimes when I would feel bad about not blogging, I would try to think of something to post about. I’m being serious when I say that in my head, I started several posts to share with you statistical principles that I find interesting. See? It was better for all concerned that I took some time away.
In December, we moved back to England. I looked for a new flat and found a good place for us. We were with family in Germany for the holidays.
Right now, things definitely aren’t settled. We’ve undoubtedly still got a lot going on. But I feel that I have gotten my blogging voice back a bit, and I want to get back into the routine of taking turns with Abbie for doing posts.
That’s one of the things I like about doing this blog. I read reviews of hotels and products and get ideas or advice from The Internet. So I think it’s kind of nice to be a part of contributing to that collective knowledgebase in some ways.
However, I have nothing to offer you in terms of crafts or children’s activities. I can knit a bit, but I can only go in straight rows. Knit-a-row-purl-a-row blankets are my forte. So I don’t think I have a lot to offer the crafting community on that. It’d be a bit strange for me to have a lot of children’s activities up my sleeve since I am neither a mother nor an early childhood educator at the moment.
No, no. This one’s for the qualitative researcher set. Big audience, I know. You’ve heard of Mommy bloggers? Well, we’re jumping into the big, wide world of Quali Bloggers now. I’m gonna reset the hit counter just for this one, cause I know we’re going off the charts, baby.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Transcribing Qualitative Interviews.
1. Learn to type fast. I think that every minute you spend on Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing or whatever, will pay off 100 fold in life. This return is exponentially greater if you ever have to do transcription. I’m so glad that my high school curriculum included typing.
2. Use transcription software. I use InqScribe, and it’s really useful to have the hotkeys to pause, rewind, restart the recording without having to reach for the mouse. Also, I really like that you can insert speakers' names and timestamps with just the touch of a button. Like this: 'Ellie [16:23]: Blah blah blah'. You save a lot of time by not having to type out the name and elapsed minutes and seconds every time a speaker changes.
3. Use a real keyboard. Laptop keyboards are not as comfortable for long-term typing. In general, the more time/energy/money you invest in getting your ergonomics right, the happier your wrists, eyes, shoulders and back will be.
4. Have a backup to typing. I prefer typing, but my ergonomic set up isn’t great. So I have used Dragon Naturally Speaking. The way I do it is that I hear the interview in my headset and then speak it into the microphone. This is a great relief if your hands are hands and arms are getting cramped. I like to alternate and do one interview by typing it and one interview on Dragon. Dragon is a bit annoying and slow sometimes, by it can be nice to give your hands a break.
5. Pace yourself. Even if the topic you’re researching is really interesting, the process of transcribing is tedious. There’s no way around that. It’s best not to do too much transcription in one day. But if you do have to devote whole days to transcribing, try and break it up by scheduling little breaks for yourself. It always takes longer than you think to transcribe an interview, so plan plenty of transcription time into the project.
I have been really into yoga recently. I’ve been taking at least one class a week since the beginning of the year. Here are some things that make me happy about yoga:
I really like it when exercises have a right and a wrong way to execute the movements. Then you have to think and be very aware when you’re exercising. I love the ‘click’ moment, when you all of a sudden realize what it feels like to do a movement correctly.
Speaking of doing things correctly… for a lot of the first classes I went to, I felt like I was able to jump right in to some of the advanced poses because I am very bendy, naturally. Now I am gradually realizing that I can’t do a lot of the poses correctly because I don’t have the strength yet. Better to modify and keep correct alignment while I gain strength. Doing the modified movements feels so much better than folding over and sticking my nose to my knees, just because I can.
I appreciate that yoga is a “journey”. Some days I feel ambitious and courageous. Some days I feel like I need to take it slower and focus on fine tuning what I’ve got. I really like that a yoga class can take on so many different moods and shades, depending on who you are when you arrive at class. I like the long-term view, too. If you can’t do a movement now, keep at it, and you’ll be able to do it eventually. I’ve seen myself make little landmark achievements in being able to do new things. I like the idea that I could spend years doing yoga and still be learning.
I *love* the energized, relaxed sensation at the end of a good class. You always end the class with ‘shavasana’, where you lie on your mat and relax everything in your body. My favorite things to relax are my facial muscles, especially the space between my eyes and my tongue. Seriously, try it sometime when you want to relax. Take some deep breaths and then relax your tongue and you’ll feel the tension vanish.
I remember Abbie saying something over Christmas about me being a natural born yoga girl, and I’d never thought of it that way. I’m glad that I have found my way to it now.
I’ve been conducting interviews with parents around the UK for work. Some interviews I do over the phone, but if the family would prefer to do the interview face-to-face, then I go out to the family’s home. Planning these day-trips for the interviews has been a boon for my English geography awareness. There are so many beautiful places to see here (and some less attractive parts, too, for the record). A train ride that dipped through Yorkshire really surprised me with that region’s beauty. I could stare out of a train window for hours. I wish a had a lovely train-ride landscape picture to share with you, but those pictures are hard to take. So here’s a (relatively) stationary memento from my journeys. These LED boards aren’t as romantic as the old-timey kinds that flip over, but they’re a lot easier to read.
I just heard that researchers have come up with a test to measure sidewalk rage. I totally pass this test. A sad truth about my otherwise good-natured personality, I know… but at the same time, I’m kind of glad to know that there are others out there who think like me. When I am walking in the city, I am trying to get somewhere. I just don’t understand how so many other pedestrians can be so unaware and inconsiderate.
I experience true anger inside myself when people walk six-abreast on the sidewalk, allowing zero room for anyone else to pass. Sometimes I just want to shake the people who walk around with their faces buried in their cell phones; they are zombie hazards. I don’t yell at people, but I do send out glares, and I occasionally mutter about other pedestrians.
For further reading: WSJ’s article or NPR’s Health podcast about sidewalk rage (which included a comment about the out-of-control number of triple-wide strollers in Woodley Park - which I totally related to).
[The following picture is unrelated to sidewalk rage, but it does have to do with mobility, I guess. I bet people who use scooters have a lot of stories of frustration with other people’s sidewalk / in-store etiquette. This scooter was parked like this outside a Burger King. Does the way it’s parked make anyone else laugh?]
Our gym here has the coolest equipment. The system is called TechnoGym. You get a little plastic electronic key, and when you join, you have a meeting with a trainer to load the key with your personal information and fitness goals. Then you can update the data on your key every month to track your progress.
Every machine has a slot for the key. So you put the key in the treadmill, and it automatically starts up at your speed and incline preferences. Mine is set to speed up by half a km/h every five minutes, which the trainer said is supposed to trick me into going faster without realizing it. (I, however, do indeed notice when the speed increases.)
The thing I like best about TechnoGym is using the key for upper body weights. The display tells you how much weight to use, how many reps to do, and counts down the waiting time between sets. Plus, it keeps track of how well you execute the motion. With that instant feedback, you can adjust your lifting so you’re getting the optimum workout.
The only reason we joined this awesome gym, which is right across the street from our flat (rather than the cheaper University fitness centre, which is about a mile away) is that my parents gave us some ‘settling in’ money when we moved and told us to get something we wouldn’t get otherwise. We decided to spend part of that on a gym membership, and we’ve loved every second of it. Thanks, Mom and Dad!!