Sorry I haven't been updating this place AT ALL for the last several weeks, and only intermittently for the previous several months. "Busy" isn't really the right descriptor; I have been rather busy, very busy in fact, and over the last four weeks I've probably been averaging close to 65 or 70 hours per week of work. Writing, mostly, which goes towards explaining my reluctance to engage in other written activities such as blogging.
So, what have I been writing? Two things ate up all of April for me. First, I had my PhD qualifying examinations in mid-March. I passed the verbal part, not the written part, so I had to re-write the written part and give that to the examination committee in mid-April (i.e. I had a month to redo it). Since that was rather critical to the course of my degree and my project, I devoted rather a lot of time to it, both writing the document in question and reading buckets of material to go into that document. Second, the busy and non-overlapping schedules of my advisory committee (my PhD advisor plus three more professors) meant a full committee meeting by the end of the Winter 2008 semester (January to April) would not be possible, so I wrote a document in lieu of a meeting. Basically, this was a combination of describing what I'd achieved during the previous year or so, plus my detailed plan for my summer field work this year. Combining these makes sense, as most of what I'd been working on since last summer has been towards getting ready for this summer.
Please permit me a small tangent here: for some reason, many people seem to assume that as a student (a grad student) I do not "have school" in the summer. Nothing could be further from the truth - my PhD project includes a large and important field-work component, collecting invertebrate animals from various places, most of which happens in the summer, when the animals in question are actually out there, running around. So I would appreciate it if people would stop asking me if I'm getting a summer job, or going on vacation, or other such nonsense that rarely applies inside the ivory tower.
Anyways, yes, I've been quite busy with writing over the last few months, and I've neglected this place. Sorry about that.
At this point, I've got a very exciting summer ahead of me, but also some pretty serious issues. I've been deep in one of the supposedly-only-two low periods of my PhD, and I've been asking myself some pretty serious questions about what I'm doing and why. I've also been annoying some of my friends by whining to them about such things. As of right now, I have passed my qualifying exams though I need to register for a couple of courses (they'll be in the fall), and I'm going to be heading out on a big trip to collect, er, bugs mostly, in early June. The next four weeks will be more intense work getting ready for the field, mostly ensuring that the methods I plan to employ in the field are likely to get me useable results.
I haven't abandoned this blog, I've just been undermotivated to post here lately. I'll try to bring the level of activity up around here to something above comatose.