February 8, 2011

Just a quick link to my new Tumblr blog.  Well, not so much a blog as a space to throw links to stuff I like or find interesting, with the odd comment or two. As I noted in my last post, ‘real’ blogging is on the back burner while I finish my thesis, a task that is going very slowly. In the meantime, if you are interested in what I’m thinking about (mostly development and politics, in New Zealand and Latin America, with some feminism and academic trivia for good measure) head over to  See you there!


Sunday Reader #4

March 7, 2010

A lot has happened since I last posted.  I packed up and left our sweet little house in the citrus orchard in Honduras and traveled to an interesting conference in wintery Savannah, flew back half-way around the world to crash at my parents home for a while, found a new house in Palmerston North and moved in, and started getting my head around my new (part time) position as a conference administrator.  What I haven’t done is get anything much done on my thesis.  Or post anything new on this blog.

Nor have I done much internet reading, and my reader has been a bit ignored.  However here are just a few things that managed to catch my eye in all the busy-ness.

In the midst of the pictures of damage in Chile, Collazo Projects has posted some photos of Chile before the Quake.  This struck a chord with me as I visited Chile (including the quake-sticken area around Concepción) many years ago and have been remembering beauty of the people and the place, and feeling somewhat melancholic about the disaster.

As Chile and Haiti face the long task of recovery, many have been asking Why are there so many natural disasters lately?.  Good intentions are Not Enough has yet another pithy post, this time reminding us of the human factors that make natural events into disasters.

As noted above, I am now trying to get  this PhD comic nicely sums up about where I am now!  I have been following the PhD comics since I began my PhD journey and there were actually several that made me smile this month.  This one also seems appropriate as I veer wildly between my daughter’s 4-year old life and academia:

Now that we are back in New Zealand and getting back into routine, hopefully both the thesis and the blog will get more attention.  Although, with the amount of attention the thesis will need I make no promises about the blog except that I will try… remembering of course that time enjoyed is not time wasted, and despite the scarcity of posts since starting the PhD, I do still enjoy blogging.

Twitter changes

January 13, 2010

Just a quick note to clear up any potential confusion over my twitter feed on the right of the screen.  It has changed.  I have 2 twitter accounts, @sharon_mcl and @kiwicatracha.  I will now be using @sharon_mcl mostly for research-related tweets, so have changed the link here to @kiwicatracha, which will contain my personal, political and other tweets, more in keeping with this blog.  If you are interested in the research by all means follow @sharon_mcl or check my research website at

Anybody else have more than one twitter account?  How do you manage them?

Sunday Reader

January 11, 2010

I confess.  I am a Google Reader addict.  I skim through hundreds of blog posts and articles each week, faithfully sharing those that I find interesting, challenging or simply fun.  As one of my favourite types of blog post is the linky type (I love finding new sites and blogs and can spend hours following rabbit holes across the web) I thought I would start my own regular link feature.  My web reading tastes are eclectic so this should be an interesting exercise… expect lots of social justice and development stuff, politics, culture, academia, some recipes I’ve tried and some just for fun. Enjoy the rabbit holes!

First up, Why Does the World’s Most Popular TV Show Feature a Misanthrope Who Gets Away with Everything? I’ve been watching a lot of House lately.  My excuse is that it is on every night here, nicely timed for an hour when my daughter is asleep, work is done and I am ready to curl up with a wine or hot chocolate and relax.  Quite why I find watching a character so abrasive, manipulative and insensitive to be relaxing I’m not sure… perhaps because he says and does some of the things I only wished I could in my past life as a nurse. Whatever the reason, he’s far more interesting to watch than the one-dimensional, polished characters on many other shows.

In addition to watching House, my other evening routine is Facebook, and this week I succumbed to the bra colour meme, seemingly a bit of harmless fun with friends in order to raise awareness for breast cancer.  But I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it, which I put down to the fact that I couldn’t see how it would actually help the cause in any meaningful way.  Saundra Schimmelpfennig of Good Intentions are Not Enough makes a more discomforting point, asking if charity activities can actually hurt the very people they are trying to help, pointing out that mis-guided charity events may loose sight, and unintentionally cause pain to beneficiaries.  Saundra has also written an interesting series on Guidelines for Volunteering Overseas, something I am planning to do more writing on and therefore something which you may see more about in this blog this year.

Here in Honduras, the elections are over and day to day life goes on seemingly normally. However the reality is that the crisis is not over.  Just yesterday Quotha reported a Massacre in Aguán, which the police and army argue is a “normal eviction”.  If even half of what is reported by Quotha is true, then this is a “normal” that needs to be challenged and changed.  Other ongoing concerns in Honduras include reports that Honduras is broke, and continuing repression of opposition media outlets. Incidentally, both blogs linked here (Quotha and Honduras Coup 2009) are written by academics with long-standing, close ties to Honduras and contacts within the resistance movement, and I trust them.

Of course in addition to obsessively following the news and spending hours with my google reader I am supposed to be writing my PhD thesis this year.  This image from indexed kind of sums up the year ahead of me.  Maybe I need to study more closely Lifehacker’s advice on better tools for better students.

Finally, this recipe for Chicken with Citrus Sauce is amazing! Lucky we are living in a citrus orchard.


January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I am doing the new year’s thing, taking a quiet few minutes to look back over my blog from the past year (sparse as it is), reflect on the year that was and think ahead to the year to come.  

From my 2008 New Year post:

So what about 2008?  I’ve not made any resolutions or non-resolutions this time. To be honest between being a mum, working and planning a PhD  I haven’t had the time or head space to think about it.  Any goals I have for them moment revolve around the PhD.  I have set myself the somewhat ambitious task of getting through the first year’s work (full proposal and literature review) before September so that we can go to Honduras to do a Spanish school and attend a conference.

This means I will be working very hard for a while.  But not at the expense of my family.  I guess my real goal for the year is to get this PhD underway while continuing to be the best mum and wife I can be.  Lets hope I can be at least as sucessful this year as I was in 2007- I can’t afford not to be.

So how did 2008 measure up?  Well I certainly didn’t complete the full years work before September (that was overly ambitious!) but I have done a fair chunk of it and was able to get to the conference, do a couple of weeks of spanish classes and even start some early interviews and data collection.  The study is very much on track.

Although I don’t think I blogged about it I was quite worried going into 2008 about how my daughter would handle the changes- moving towns, Mummy doing full time study, starting childcare and travel.  But she was amazing.  We had a few hiccups settling her into childcare (“I want Mummy to stay with me…”) but she’s now going happily 3 days per week (4 days from next week…).  I do find I need to work on the balance and make sure we have plenty of Mummy time, or she gets very clingy, but overall we seem to have found a good balance.

I’m not sure if I have found much balance with my long-suffering husband, and feel like I failed him a little this year.  Once again health problems have limited his ability to complete his studies or find regular work.  He is a wonderful Dad and I honestly don’t know if I would have made much progress on the PhD if he hadn’t been available to pick up most of the childcare and home responsibilities but thinking about that too much only makes me feel more guilty. I really hope this year is the one in which he finally is able to make some progress on his own dreams.

So what are my goals for 2009?

Obviously I want to make significant progress on the PhD- complete the confirmation procedures in February which means finishing the proposal and literature reviews, and then get into the data collection.  This will require about 6 months in Honduras, as well as significant amounts of online research.  By the end of the year I’d like to have the data collection completed, analysis underway and be thinking about some serious writing.

This means another year of hard work and travel.  It also means another year of changes and instability for my daughter and makes things tricky for my husband.  While there is not much I can do about his health except hope and pray, I approach this year more cautiously as I am much more aware now of just how messed up things can get.  I really don’t have any answers and can only keep trying to support him in the best way I can. I suspect this year may become one of investigation and planning as we think about where we want to settle and what we want to do as a family long term.

2008 was also year of spiritual exploration and contemplation as I strayed far futher from the faith I grew up in than I would ever have expected.  I am long past searching for definative answers but will be continuing the journey in 2009.  While much of my life seems set to follow I predictable plan this year this is one area which remains quite blank. Which is very exciting and a bit scary.  

Finally, this post also marks the 2-year anniversary of this blog!  While I haven’t always posted regularly (being a Mum and a PhD student doesn’t leave much spare time for writing blog posts), I like having the outlet to share the things that are on my mind. So, if there are any readers left out there, thanks for reading.  I wish you all the best for the new year, and may this year be one where you too make progress towards reaching your own castles in the sky.

An unconventional movement

August 27, 2008

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but I have a really good excuse….

This is my research website, which is evidence of the hard work I’ve been doing over the past few weeks getting ready for our trip to Honduras where I’ll be speaking at a conference, doing spanish study and starting fieldwork interviews for the research.  Only 12 days until we leave and my to-do list is enormous so I’d better get back to work now….

The web is us

April 17, 2008

I came across this video today while doing some online searching (my PhD is internet- related so it was study…. really), by Michael Wesch, an anthropology professor. It is very interesting, very watchable and very thought-provoking.

Happy Monday

March 31, 2008

As I was getting ready to leave the house this morning I had a startling revelation.  It was Monday morning and I was happy.  I never recall in nursing actually looking forward to the work week and not being sad that the weekend/ days off were over.  I guess despite all the personal and family dramas, and general cynicism over the state of the world, I am in the right place and doing the right thing.  I am enjoying academia, getting my teeth into some really interesting reading and actually making concrete plans to get to Honduras later this year.

My advice to the world for today?  If it’s Monday morning and you are not looking forward to the week, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate.  Don’t wait for the world to get better for you. If you would rather be doing something else, try and work out how you can make the change happen.  It’s so worth it.

But enough blogging, I really should really actually be doing those readings right now!

A few woes

February 8, 2008

I’m here.  Sitting at the university contemplating my first week as a PhD student.  Earlier in the week I started mentally composing a post about how happy I was and how great it was to actually be here.  But I’m not posting that today.  Be warned, this is going to be a grumpy post.

Of course, I am happy to be here, and I’m sure the current problems are temporary, but I’m finishing the week in a cloud of frustation.  Here’s my gripes…

We have been lucky to have been allocated a family flat 10 mins walk for campus.  It’s a nice enough place, a little like a motel unit but absolutely fine for what we need.  Exceptwe feel somewhat isolated-

  • We are supposed to be able to access wireless internet but the signal seems to be pathetic and we have not yet been able to logon.
  • We get exactly 2 television channels, poorly
  • The phone line (which is toll barred) has abruptly been cut off for no discernable cause.

Luckily we have cellphones and reception for those is good!  However my list is not quite done yet.  There’s my university woes…

  • I’ve been allocated an office- temporarily.  There are Masters students using the PhD room so I’m back in the Masters room.  Not that there’s much difference and I’m certainly not an academic snob, but I really don’t want the hassle of setting up and then being moved.
  • I can’t seem to get my computer registered on the university network.  It wasn’t a problem 3 years ago but now it seems there is a couple of little problems including new staff who don’t know the procedures and a possibly new $120 charge that I might be made to pay.
  • The USB drive a bought was faulty.  No problem to exchange than goodness.  But then I went and left it at home today.  Which wouldn’t be a problem except at the moment (for the above reasons) I am working between 3 different computers and the library.
  • I can’t use my bibliographic software because it requires a download that I can’t download because I can’t access the internet from my computer and I can’t even download it from another computer onto the USB drive and then onto my computer for the above reasons…

I have some other woes to do with feeling a bit overwhelmed with the topic and wondering where to start- probably much more important in the long term, but internet and computer difficulties are making that process so much more difficult. 

On the bright side- I”M HERE!  I really needed to vent, and am feeling a bit better for doing so.  It is now nearly 6pm on Friday night, the library is about to close and I am going to go home and enjoy my weekend.  Hopefully I’ll come back refreshed and optomistic and once more excited about the fact that I am able to pursue a PhD.  After all, I really am one of the lucky ones, many many people in this world never get this sort of opportunity.

Moving on…

January 31, 2008

Today was my last day of work.

Tomorrow we finish packing and clean.

Saturday we finshing cleaning, load the car and trailer and drive to Palmerston North.

Monday I start life as a PhD candidate.

Strange.  How did we get to February so quickly?

(I think I should resign my job and get a new haircut in the same week more often.  I haven’t had so many nice things said to me for a long time.)

Next post… from Palmy?