Some sciencey dissertation talk – I’m feeling good about this!

I had a nerve wracking, gut wrenching morning yesterday as I pored over dissertation data that was messed up – it just didn’t make sense. Some scales were beautifully normally distributed but completely unreliable, others were showing me a mirror image, backwards effect from what past literature told me to expect. Something was WRONG. I contacted the techy guy I have running my survey program for me in New York (I’m a Canadian collecting American data), and asked him to send me the absolute raw data – no fancy scripts used in the export file, not even changed from the raw labels (e.g., “strongly agree” before it gets changed to a computable value of “5”). He got me the file by 7pm, but I was putting Avery to bed and wasn’t out of her room until 9 (poor little bug has been taking a long time to fall asleep lately, writhing around itching her eczema flare up). I worked on that file until after midnight, and started up again as soon as I’d dropped Avery off at daycare this morning. By 10am, I had solved the mystery through careful detective work and meticulously doing by hand all coding and reverse scoring. The data was fine! The messed up appearance was caused by an error made by my techy survey software guy when he wrote script to code and reverse score before exporting to me.

That felt good.

What felt even better? The data was better than fine. It was AMAZING. I’m collecting my data in batches so I can ensure it’s all going to plan before spending ALL THE MONEY on the full sample; in the mere 79 person sample I have right now, I was actually getting significant effects on two of my hypotheses. For anyone who knows stats, you know how AWESOME this is. Not to mention the validation I feel in the face of two of my committee members who approved my proposal despite admitting their utter skepticism that I’d find any effects. So now I’m in full-steam-ahead recruiting mode for batch two, and if everything still looks good when I look at that, I’ll be able to finish data collection in 6 weeks. I mean, my original goal was to start collecting in September and get it all in 2 weeks, but we all hit bumps in the road when dissertating. It ALWAYS takes longer than we expect.

But I least my hypotheses are being supported. Go me!

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On being an inspiring family

We received a thank-you card from a couple who’s wedding we attended this summer. They’re a gorgeous-inside-and-out same-sex couple, and we were so excited to be witness to their wedding vows. They were our first same-sex wedding experience besides our own. We were also so thankful to have Avery with us, witnessing two women, both in stunning white dresses, exchanging marriage vows. It probably won’t be a memory that lasts for her, but it’s a view of the world we want her to have from a young age.

Anyway, in the thank-you card, they wrote that they have looked up to our family. That surprised me. I’ve always felt like I’m just trying to live my normal life. In fact, I’ve felt extra typical and normative since settling down and starting a family. Getting married was easy for us – the laws permitted it, our social network supported it, and it felt like we were just doing what was expected of us. Having a baby was the same. We found an incredibly easy route to having a baby. We had no insurmountable or overly significant roadblocks. Conception for us was free. Again, it felt like we were just doing what society expected of a couple who had just gotten married.

The fact that I feel this way is a testament to the pioneering Queer people who fought for these rights in a time when marriage and conceiving children was not expected of them. So I feel like a bit of a fraud being someone’s inspiration for marrying their same sex partner and planning to have a child together. But at the same time, I feel excited by the fact that we are fulfilling and carrying on the legacy that our Queer foremothers and forefathers created for us. I feel so normal doing something once considered so extreme.

10 Favourite Fall Recipes

I LOVE Fall cooking. I find summer cooking is a lot more expensive as a meat eater – even though we grow a lot of our own vegetables – because we grill a lot of meats. We’re big on BBQ season. But in the Fall, the meats we eat switch to whole roast chickens and ducks, or slowly roasted beef. We also eat a lot more vegetarian meals in the fall, simply because warm curries, hashes, or soups don’t really need meat to be delicious. We’re also fans of Moroccan flavours in my family, so when Butternut Squash and sweet potatoes and other sweet and savoury produce is in season, we go nuts with it. Here are 10 of my current favourite fall recipes – all have been tested (and cooked multiple times) by me.

 

 

 

 

Fried Rice

Fried Rice
By Gimme Some Oven

 

Shepherds-Pie-2

Shepherd’s Pie
By Girl Gone Gourmet

 

piri piri

Piri Piri Chicken (with roasted potatoes and rocket/green salad)
By Jamie Oliver

 

 

Pomegranate-pulled-pork_smoky-cheddar-waffles

Savoury Cheddar Waffles with Pomegranate Pulled Pork
By Chatelaine
(I use the Joy of Cooking waffle recipe and toss in cheddar, but pork recipe also links to a waffle recipe)

 

korma

Chicken Korma
By Savory & Sweet Food

 

 

“Your startup disk is almost full”

I don’t really know computers that well. I rely on my computer for all of my PhD work, and it stresses me out that I don’t know how to keep my computer running well in times of need. For a long time now, my mac has been giving me a pop-up warning that says, “your startup disk is almost full.” Recently, it has been crashing. I’ve had to get in the habit of saving my large data files every couple of minutes because excel and SPSS (my stats software) are crashing. Microsoft word is crashing. This is terrifying for someone who’s life’s work is wrapped up in these three programs. I back-up to dropbox, but I’m still terrified.

And today I am so frustrated that I cried. I finally got round one of my dissertation data, and I need to clean it and analyze it before collecting the next round of data. My programs won’t stay open long enough to work on analysis. I googled how to clean my startup disk, and it seems that no matter what I delete, no space opens up. My storage is taken up by a category called, “other”. I have no idea what’s taking up my entire hard drive, and I don’t know how to get rid of it. I feel helpless. I am eating chocolate and pouting and hoping that it will miraculously cure itself.

Any help will be gladly accepted.

“The ghost is here.” And other haunting musings from my 2 year old

Avery is really into ghosts right now. And by that I mean, she claims to see one in our house… We’ve been reading her Halloween books to get her in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, but in those books the ghosts are just a kid or a farm animal with a sheet over their head. Paw Patrol also has at least one ghost episode, but the ghost gets debunked (and again, it’s pretty obviously just Marshall with a sheet on his head).

So the fact that she’s talking about a ghost in our house as some invisible entity that she can point at but we can’t see is highly unsettling. I don’t believe in ghosts, but the idea of them still terrifies me. My imagination has always been strong, and my logical brain has to work really hard to make it so I don’t need to sleep with a light on.

Avery’s ghost talk started with a creepy afternoon ghost sighting while we were playing in the living room. She stopped what she was doing, pointed at the bottom of the stairs, and said, “ghost downstairs.”

My knee jerk reaction was to try to saying something to keep her from being scared. I said, “there’s no ghost. Ghosts are just on TV.” I now don’t know if this was the best response; maybe I should have validated her more and inquired about what she saw, but I didn’t want to encourage something that might end up scaring her.

But she’s not scared. The next day, when she was sitting on the toilet in our upstairs bathroom, she pointed at the open doorway and said “ghost right there!” She was super calm and matter-of-fact about it. Again, my response was, “there’s not ghost. Ghosts are just on TV.” Despite the calm tone I tried to present, I was feeling disturbed at this point.

The creepiest time to hear these comments are in her bedroom at night. My wife and I take turns laying with her in the dark for up to an hour while she falls asleep. It was my night to do bedtime, and from the dark she whispered, “ghost.” I could see in the faint light coming in from under the door that her arm was up and her finger was pointing. Then she said, “ghost flying around Avery’s bed.”

It took all the adult self-control and reassuring techniques I could conjure to stay in her room.

Now that she has caught on to our canned reassuring line that “ghosts are just on TV,” she prefaces her ghost sightings by acknowledging that there isn’t really a ghost. Instead of just, “I see a ghost,” she now says, “Ghosts are just on TV. No ghost beside Avery’s bed.” But why so specific about where this non-existent ghost is standing???

Dreaming of your unborn child

I was looking back on my old blog posts from early in my pregnancy with Avery and I came across an account of a dream I had when I was just 7 weeks pregnant

I had my first baby dream since getting pregnant, and it was magical. I didn’t want to wake up. My wife and I were cuddling a beautiful brunette baby girl… It was so real and so wonderful…

And although Avery turned blond when her newborn hair fell out, here’s a picture of her as a newborn:

Did I have some intuition that actually allowed me to KNOW the sex and future hair colour of the embryo that was growing inside me? I’m not inclined to believe so, but it’s certainly interesting to consider…

Am I going to be assaulted?

I’ve never been raped. In my years as a hetero- and then bisexual identifying person (in my teens and early 20s), I was sexually harassed and sexually coerced by men numerous times, and long before I knew what consent was I definitely had sex without really wanting to, for various psychological reasons. But I have never experienced the horror of having a man enter my space and force himself on me explicitly against my will.

And yet, the fear of having this happen is at the forefront of my thoughts when I interact alone with any man I do not know intimately well.

Someone I used to volunteer with – a white man in his 50’s – came to my house the other day just to catch up. He requested a get-together at my house so he could see my chickens. He’s a nice person and I was happy to catch up and show him our set-up. But we were going to be meeting at my house on a day when I was going to be alone. My wife and daughter were out of town. On the days leading up to our get-together, a dark thought started running through my mind:

What if he plans to assault me?

I had horrible images in my head. As the hours to our visit ticked closer, I became scared. But I also felt ridiculous for being scared. I’d worked on odd projects and had board meetings with this person for a year prior. We weren’t close, but he was really nice and easy to get along with. While I KNEW he wasn’t actually a threat, I also KNEW the statistics around sexual assault occurring mostly in the victim’s home, by people the victim knows.

Our visit came and went, and I was unharmed. He was a perfectly pleasant human who legitimately wanted to catch up and learn about my chickens. And I felt horrible for fearing the worst of him.

But that’s what it’s like to be a woman.