2010 in review

January 2, 2011

As is obvious from the stats below, I neglected this blog in 2010, as I concentrated on my thesis and my family.  This is likely to continue into 2011, as I work on completing the thesis – hopefully by May. Blogging is not completely forgotten however, I’m giving some thought to the future of this blog, and the possibility of a new one. Once the thesis is submitted I will most likely be back in some form. I hope to see you on the other side!


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 19 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 242 posts. There were 7 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb.

The busiest day of the year was January 19th with 46 views. The most popular post that day was Sunday Reader #2 (on Monday).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were blogger.com, google.com, google.co.nz, thehandmirror.blogspot.com, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for burma, children in poverty, coffee bean, banana, and bananas.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Sunday Reader #2 (on Monday) January 2010


Free Burma October 2007


I love nappies/diapers (really!) January 2007


Christmas in Honduras December 2009


Life in the banana republic March 2007


New Years is a great time for reflection and making plans and so over the past couple of weeks (and between the rounds of visits and parties that is the holiday season in Honduras) I have been doing a lot of thinking, much of it about my PhD, the work I’ve done and what I have left to do. So, in the spirit of the season, here’s a short round-up of some of my research-related achievements for 2009, and my goals for 2010.


Confirmed! After completing 2 large literature reviews and a longish proposal in March I underwent the ritual of confirmation.  This is the process by which the university assesses whether a PhD candidate has met the requirements of the first year of the program, and has a research proposal that is sound academically and ethically. Prior to this a candidate is on a provisional registration, following success at confirmation the student is fully registered… and the clock is ticking to completion!

Data Collection: Following confirmation most of my energy could finally be directed towards actually doing the research. As with most fieldwork, things didn’t quite go completely to plan, with delays and changes due to political and family crises.  While I haven’t done as many visits and interviews as I originally anticipated my data file is packed, I have over 400 data “sources”, not including the notebooks and computer files  of  fieldnotes I’ve made myself over the past year. Whew.

Conference: Despite the ongoing crisis and curfews the Conference on Honduras went ahead more or less to plan in September, and I presented a brief report on the progress of my research and early findings.  At the time I thought it went well, although I didn’t receive a lot of feedback.  More important than the presentation was the opportunity to reconnect with people I’d met in 2008, and to meet others, which is really the whole point of the conference anyway!

Living in Honduras: While I have been married to a Honduran for 8 years, and have made 3 previous visits of 2-4 months to the country, this was my first opportunity to actually live here.  It’s been wonderful… mostly.  We found a lovely place to live in the mountains outside Tegucigalpa, and I have enjoyed getting to know the culture and people of Honduras in a much deeper way.  My Spanish is slowly improving too!


So what is on the agenda for 2010?

Finish data collection and analysis: I have just four weeks and a few interviews to finish up here in Honduras before returning to NZ.  I have already started working through the data and will continue the process in NZ.

Conference I will be attending the doctoral colloquium at a conference in Savannah, Georgia in February (after leaving Honduras and before returning to NZ!).  This is a great opportunity to share my research and learn from others, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Writing: This is the main challenge for the year.  Although I have two more years of enrolment to finish the thesis, I have just one more year of scholarship money so I’d really like to get it done as much as possible.  The goal?  A complete draft completed before the New Zealand International Development Studies Network conference in December which I will be helping to organise.

This should be more than enough to keep me busy, along with family commitments and the usual new years “resolutions” to eat better and exercise more!  Keep this site bookmarked (or subscribe to the RSS feed on the right) to keep track of my progress and possibly even to be among the first to see some of my results and writing!

Sharon on Twitter

March 26, 2009

Over a year ago I joined twitter, posted a few tweets, and then abandoned it. I didn’t know anyone else using Twitter, and I was happy using Facebook as my social networking tool.  But life online never stays still for long and after months of hearing about Twitter and seeing how others are using it I have returned.  Doing research that is primarily Internet-based with participants in at least three different countries (none of which I am currently resident in!); and with family, friends and colleagues scattered all over the globe, it just makes sense to utilise all the networking tools I can. Even more so when a major theme of my research is networking!

So, I’m on Twitter, as Sharon_Mcl.  I’ve put a badge in the sidebar on the left- a particularly ugly one but WordPress won’t allow flash widgets.  I’m still very much a Twitter newbie, and don’t really know how this particular tool will work out but I’m enjoying it. Please feel free to ‘follow’!

Don’t Corrupt Aid

March 9, 2009

don't corrupt aidNew Zealand’s National government would like to merge NZAid back into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT).  This would be a major step backwards.  The two were seperated by Labour in recognition that NZAid should remain independent of Government foreign policy (particularly trade), so that aid could be directly more effectively to poverty alleviation rather than to reinforce the interest of business elites. 

Murray McCully’s statement that dropping money out of helicopters = poverty alleviation is evidence of the governments ignorance of aid and development issues.  However it appears that the review of NZAid  will be done without public consultation or advice from development experts.  Being a grad student in development studies I know more than a few experts in the field whose advice on the merger would not be what the government would like to hear so I’m guessing there’s good reason why thier opinions are not being sought.  Which is sad, but not entirely surprising for this government. Once again it seems that knowledge and expertise are being sacrificed on the altar of political philosophy.



Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline pledges cheap medicine for world’s poor | Business | The Guardian .

This is good news, but not enough. It seems to me to be a token gesture from an industry whose profit-motivated structure is at the heart of the problem.

Seen on campus

February 20, 2009

Seen on campus


January 15, 2009

Sign the petition.. please!


Merry Christmas

December 22, 2008

We’re off to to join my family at the beach tomorrow for a few days of sun, surf and lots of food! I know not everyone is able to enjoy the season as we do. I wish they could. That would be my holiday wish. Peace, love and happy holidays to the world.

My first ever attempt at a gingerbread house!

My first ever attempt at a gingerbread house!

Ring the bells that can still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen, Anthem, 1992