Purposive Rambling

the journey is the reward.

Archive for May 2009

Writing Reviews

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There’s a discussion going on over at scatterplot about the ethics of letting grad students help out with paper reviews. It seems that the general consensus is that you should ask the editor to be safe, and that it’s an incredibly important socialization experience for grad students. As a grad student, I wholeheartedly agree with this last point.

Last semester I took a course that was all about the writing process. All students in our program are required to take the course at least once, and many end up taking it multiple times. Everyone comes in with a work-in-progress, and one of the goals is to get the paper in publishable-shape by the end of the semester. My paper is not quite there, but it will be soon, and it has come a LONG way since the beginning of last semester. Along with working on our own papers and giving each other feedback, we also talked about the basics of writing academically, the difficulties of writing, and what the publishing process is like.

As part of our discussion on getting published, we did some reviewing. Our professor received permission from a colleague to share her journey to getting a paper published. This colleague allowed us to see all of the drafts, reviews of those drafts, and her/his comments back to reviewers. Before we saw others’ reviews, though, we wrote our own. I had no idea what a review was supposed to look like. And my first stab at it was pretty terrible. I found out that I was way too nit-picky. I wanted to point out every little thing that I wished the author would change. When I stepped back from it and thought about how I would react to a review like the one I had just written, I realized I was being pretty harsh. It wasn’t my paper, and there should be some room for your own style.

The reviewer’s job is more about determining whether the paper makes a contribution and whether it is free of big theoretical, methodological, and analytical gaps and flaws. Writing our own reviews and then being able to compare them to the actual reviews for that paper, and then seeing all the work that this author had to do to move forward from the reviews was incredible. Seeing the process from start to finish really demystifies it. It’s easy to feel inadequate when you just read the final published product, but no papers start off that way. They have a long journey from conception to publication.

After doing the fake review, I was asked to do a real review for a journal. I felt so much more prepared and confident in my ability to comment on this paper after having had this class last semester. I really enjoyed doing the review. It was really neat to feel like I was playing an instrumental role in making someone else’s scholarship better. I can’t wait to do the next one! But in the meantime, I should probably focus on getting my own paper published.


Written by Lisa

May 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I passed the test!

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A couple days ago I had a breakthrough with my running. I ran 3 miles straight with no shin pain. I finally felt like this was going to be the time that I would be able to stick with it.

But I had a real concern about whether or not I would be able to run outside. I thought maybe the hard sidewalk would bring back the shin pain. I thought maybe I wouldn’t pace myself well, run too fast, and then be out of breath after a mile. But, I figured if I’m going to run a 5K next month, I’ve got to give it a shot. I told myself that if it doesn’t go well, I can at least walk the 5K.

I woke up with really sore feet yesterday morning, but as the day progressed they got much better. So yesterday I rested. And then today I woke up feeling great. It was sunny but not too warm out this morning, so after Jon went to work, I suited up and went out.

I ran. And I ran. And I ran some more. My breathing was fine. My shins weren’t hurting. I just kept going. I went north for awhile and then headed east. My legs started to get a little sore so I headed south again toward home. I didn’t have a watch on, and I didn’t really know how to estimate how far I was running. I figured for my first real run outside I shouldn’t worry about that, though. It was really just a test to see if I could handle it. I could figure out the distance later.

I made it back home and other than being a little tuckered out, I felt great! I must have gotten over some hump with this shin issue. They seem to be in fine working order now – even on concrete. Big relief.

So to figure out how far I ran, I used mapmyrun.com. Awesome website.

I mapped the route that I took, and it ended up being 3.19 miles! I was shocked that I ran so far. This 5K is going to be a breeze.

Here’s a link to my route today.

Written by Lisa

May 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Activities, Indianapolis

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My Lobotomy

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I just finished reading My Lobotomy: A Memoir by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming.

It was really nice to be reading a non-academic book finally! It’s been quite awhile since I did any reading for fun. Not that I don’t enjoy reading Sociology, but it’s for a different purpose.

This book is anything but fun, though. It’s horribly depressing. It’s all about Howard Dully surviving not only a lobotomy, but also an abusive childhood. His story of persistence through all of the harm that was done to him by the people that should have been protecting him is just remarkable. Nobody should have to grow up feeling unloved and unwanted. 

Reading this book reminded me of everything I have to be thankful for. I am so blessed to be where I am and to not have had to go through the pain and hardship that so many people face throughout their lives. It didn’t have to be this way, though. I could have been Howard Dully. Anyone could have. It definitely makes me want to make the most of this great life that I have and avoid negativity about the little things that really don’t matter. It also makes me want to be more compassionate to others. We really don’t know what people have had to deal with in their lives, and we really shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

Written by Lisa

May 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I am a runner.

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For the past few years I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with running. I really enjoy running, but it hurts my shins. So from time to time I would try to make running a habit and just put up with the shin pain, hoping it would go away. But I’ve always given up after awhile because the pain didn’t go away. I thought something was really wrong and I might be doing more damage by continuing to run.

Last winter we went to Bally’s for a few months, and I got into a pretty regular habit of riding the elliptical machine. It’s a great workout, but I missed running. I wanted the freedom that comes from running. I always felt like the elliptical machine was too controlling of my movement.

So now that we’re using the workout room in our apartment building, I’ve decided to give the treadmill another chance. I want to be serious about running this time, though, and do it right.

First, I got new shoes. I visited the Running Company and told them that I’ve had trouble with my shins. They had me run on a treadmill for a bit and video-recorded it. When they played it back, it appeared that I was normal, after all! I was so excited to see that I was running properly and there were no real problems with my form. I picked out a pair of new shoes. And then they showed me some exercises I can do to build up the muscles around my shins. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for beginning runners to have shin aches, but it’s a temporary problem.

Along with doing my new exercises, which really are just about pointing and flexing the toes, I read online about the suggested way to get into running. A lot of people advocate for a run-walk-run approach to building up endurance. I had been just warming up by walking for a couple minutes, running 10-12 minutes, and then cooling down by walking for a couple minutes. So a couple days ago I started the run-walk-run thing by alternating 2 minutes of walking with 5 minutes of running for twenty minutes or so. I decided my goal was to work my way up to running 30 minutes. But after twenty minutes, my shins were killing me. So I stopped. The good news is that my legs and lungs are a lot stronger than I thought. Other than my shins hurting, I felt like I could do at least double what I had already done. 

Yesterday I was all set to do the run-walk-run thing again. I was going to try alternating 1 minute of walking with 6 minutes or running this time. So I started with a 1 minute warm-up, and then I started running. Since my shins had really hurt the day before, I was trying to be really gentle with them. I tried just barely picking my feet up off the treadmill and tried to be very soft in my landings. I made it to 6 minutes of running, and I was feeling fine. Typically, my shins start hurting about 5 minutes into running. So I decided to just keep going and see how long I could make it. I got to 12 minutes, and I was still doing fine. And, since I’m only running 5 miles an hour, that was my one mile, which was really exciting. I ran a mile with no pain! So I kept going. I thought I’d try to make it to 20 minutes of running. I got to 20 minutes and I was still doing okay, so I decided to go for 24 minutes or 2 miles. I hit 2 miles, and I was feeling great! Well, not great, but I wasn’t hurting. I was crazy hot and sweaty, and my legs were starting to hurt. But I could handle it. At that point I was thinking, if I can do 2 miles, surely I can do 3. And I did! I ran for 36 minutes straight! I ran 3 miles! And my shins were fine!

I don’t know if it was the soft running or if my shin exercises are really working or if I just broke past the beginning runner shin aches, but I was elated that I made it so far without hurting. I want to run a 5K next month, and it’s really exciting to feel like I could do it now. I imagine it would be more difficult outside on the hard sidewalk and I want to get better before I do it, but I think I could do it right now. That’s an awesome feeling.

If things continue to go well, I might just do a half-marathon in November. There’s one that I have my eye on, but I’m not going to register until I survive the 5K and have managed to really make running a serious habit. I think I’m on the right track, though. Last night, I finally felt like I could legitimately say that I am a runner.

Written by Lisa

May 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

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I just wanna laugh!

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For awhile we were using Netflix to watch The West Wing. But we started getting a little bored with it and wanted to watch some movies again. In particular, we wanted to see some funny movies. We have been having bad luck lately, though. The last two we received were Burn After Reading and Lost in America.

Burn After Reading wasn’t terrible. But it was not a comedy. There were funny moments, I guess. Brad Pitt’s character was pretty funny. But it was mostly just strange and disturbing. Since I was expecting it to be funny, I found it to be pretty shocking. It’s hard to explain without giving it away. But we were definitely not laughing.

And Lost in America was just dumb. And also disturbing but in a different way. I don’t understand how watching a dysfunctional couple’s life fall apart is funny. We were so put off by this movie – and the fact that it was supposed to be a comedy but wasn’t – that we didn’t even finish watching it. Again, not laughing.

We should be getting Step Brothers any day now. We’ll see how that goes.

Written by Lisa

May 27, 2009 at 7:35 pm

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My Memorial Day Weekend in Indy

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I went to my first ever “real” parade last weekend. When I was a kid we sometimes went to the Sacajawea Festival parade. All I really remember about it was there was lots of candy being thrown for the kids, and there was a dog that rode on a donkey’s back. I think one year I may have gone to another parade in the county because my little brother was in the marching band. But outside of that, I’d never really been to parades.

So this weekend we went to the Indy 500 parade. It’s a big deal in Indy. They set up bleachers on the streets a few weeks ago, and downtown pretty much shuts down for the majority of the day. The best thing about it was that we left our apartment at about 11:30 when it started at noon. We walked about a block and got a great spot to see everything. I even had time to run back for some hats and sunscreen when we realized it was sunnier than we originally thought.

It felt like what I imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade would be like. People were lining up in the streets hours ahead of time.


There were vendors with food and “souvenirs.” There were people handing out coupons to nearby businesses. There were Jesus-sign people. I’m pretty sure one of them said “God loves. God hates.” Not sure what that’s about it. I steered clear except to snap a quick photo.


The parade included plenty of great floats, lots of marching bands, the Indy 500 drivers, Mario Lopez, Dick Vitale, and my personal favorite, huge inflatable cartoon characters. They are just so silly! I love seeing Sponge Bob floating above buildings.

IMG_1026 (Mario and his pretty face are in the red car.)

IMG_1049 (Best Memorial Day-themed float.)


Although it was ridiculously hot, rude people stood right in front of us from time to time, and our feet hurt from standing so long, we had a great time. I imagine we’ll be back next year unless it’s raining.


I should also mention that we visited Mass Ave this weekend for lunch. It is such a cute little area. We’ll definitely have to make our way up there again to check out the shops. We went to the Old Point Tavern. The menu is pretty extensive for a pub. I expected burgers and greasy sandwiches, but they had plenty of salads and cold sandwiches listed. And, to my surprise, they didn’t have any burgers! I had the chicken nachos, which had been recommended by a friend. They were huge and spectacular. They could definitely be shared by a few people, but I ate them all myself. Well, I didn’t eat them all, but pretty close. I was in pain on the walk home.

Written by Lisa

May 27, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Mystery Meat

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This morning I decided to make fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken breast for dinner. So I took some chicken out of the freezer to thaw. It was a half pound that we had leftover from another meal, so it was just wrapped up in aluminum foil. And, therein lies the problem.

It wasn’t chicken! It was pork! I peeked in and thought it looked like chicken, but I should have looked closer. Or, perhaps we should invest in some freezer tape and mark what we’re wrapping up.

We ended up having fettuccine alfredo with broccoli and a grilled pork loin on the side. Not so bad.

Written by Lisa

May 26, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Posted in Food

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