Tuesday, December 18, 2007


16 hours writing since Saturday, page count = 182, plus 8-page preface

After meeting with my other co-chair on Sunday, we agreed that I'm very close, and that with a specific set of changes, I will have a dissertation that I could get published as a book in Colombia, which is my ultimate goal. So this holiday season I will celebrate a significant set of accomplishments, and look forward to finishing in style early in the new year! I'll post a couple more times this week before taking a well-deserved break over the last week of the year. Then I'll be back the first week of January for the final push.

Thanks for hanging with me this long. Onward!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Framework (continued)

8 hours writing, page count = 178

Continued working on the revised comparative framework in advance of my meeting with one of my co-chairs tomorrow. I worked in the library at school most of the day, and will probably do so again tomorrow. It's an interesting environment with students in the middle of exams (the stacks are open 24 hours), and practically any source I could happen to need is right there. Onward!

Friday, December 14, 2007


5 hours writing, 2 hours meeting, page count = 174

Had a great meeting with one of my co-chairs today. We came up with a more effective way of presenting the comparative framework, which I'll be implementing over the weekend. I also touched base with the other co-chair, and will be meeting with him on Sunday afternoon. I'm powering through, and look forward to a productive next few days!

Thanks to this week's monitor Dan Faltz in Los Angeles. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


8 hours writing, page count = 172

I'm continuing to revise the chapter on the critical juncture of security-force configuration between 1880 and 1910. There are two sections, one on the police and one on the army. The police section has been a bear to pin down, but I think I finally have it. Boy, the exercise of writing around outcomes rather than chronology has been challenging but productive. I think I found a structure that makes sense for that section. Now to finish the other section and have that chapter ready for my meeting with my advisor tomorrow. Onward!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Outcomes vs. episodes

1 hour meeting, 3 hours processing data, 4 hours writing, page count = 179

I got a signature! One of my committee members has signed off, and I have three to go. Very exciting. We had a good meeting, and she had a lot of great comments and sources to help flesh out the historical and comparative chapters.

I worked on reframing the critical-juncture chapter in terms of outcomes rather than episodes. Another committee member gave me good advice yesterday about structuring historical materials for political-science purposes: start with the conclusion or the outcome, and then trace the process by which that conclusion was arrived at. So I'm doing that with the critical-juncture chapter. Part of that involves making more of a reform to empower governors to form their own police forces. I had been thinking about the critical juncture in terms of two episodes: the 1890s when the National Police were created, and the following decade (the 1900s?) when the army was professionalized. But part of the military reforms in the latter part involved the empowerment of governors to create their own police forces. Because I had been structuring the discussion in terms of temporal episodes, I hadn't connected these two decisions about the National Police and the state police, even though they're linked thematically, because they're separated temporally. The way I'm rewriting it is better.

To flesh out the piece about the state-police reform, which I had only mentioned in passing before, I went back to my historical data about the regional allocation of police forces, and put together a table tracking its evolution, which involved a good bit of data processing.

This week's and next week's blogs are brought to you by the letters M, L, and S, for Matt and Laura Sumner, who in their infinite patience and kindness are hosting me once again in the East Bay. Congratulations to Laura on turning in several chapters of her master's thesis today, and to Matt on finishing his penultimate semester studying interior design!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snip snip

3 hours meeting, 7 hours writing, page count = 176

This week's monitor is Dan Faltz, in Los Angeles. Welcome back, Dan!

I arrived in the Bay Area last night, and had my first set of meetings with my advisors today. They were very productive. I got a lot of good feedback, and have many changes to make. The first set involved trimming down the introductory chapters considerably, and integrating them into a single, tight introductory chapter. So this afternoon and evening, I worked on that. I cut out quite a lot, set it aside, and then started figuring out where I really needed that information, and how to get it across most succinctly. The result so far is a much more streamlined introduction and motivation of the empirical discussion, which I now get to very quickly. This is all to the good. I'll have more meetings this week, and will keep writing and revising.

P.S. Happy birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I'm taking the rest of the week off of my dissertation to do career-related work. I'm traveling to Indianapolis for a conference on equity and philanthropy targeted to young professionals of color in the foundation world - as that is my past and future. Networking, generating ideas, maybe drumming up some business. Should be productive. I'll be writing about the conference for a couple of philanthropy blogs, and will link from here to those. Also, watch this space for news about a community volunteer effort I'm involved with that I look forward to sharing with you all.

I'll be back next Monday, blogging from the Bay Area during my trip to meet with my advisors. Three of the four first meetings are set for next Monday and Tuesday, so I'll jump right in.

Thanks to this week's monitor Geordan Drummond!

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


6 hours writing, page count = 223


I saved the final changes on the complete draft at 5:13pm Eastern, the exact moment I turned 34. Then I emailed it to my committee, and I fly out to Berkeley next week to negotiate final revisions with them.

Happy Birthday to me! And thank you to all the Villagers for your help in getting this far!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oh, I can taste it...

12 hours writing, page count = 218 (net since Saturday: edited out 18 pages, wrote 21)

Finally wrestled the La Violencia chapter to the ground. I'm happy with the quantitative data that I generated, and while the analysis could be more briskly written, it gets the basic job done. I also feel good about the cuts that I made (most of them, anyway) - it was stuff that just wasn't working.

OK, pause for breath, and some rest. Tomorrow, I'll finish off the comparative chapter and the conclusion. Onward!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Narrowing in

10 hours writing, page count = 228

Made a lot of progress on the La Violencia chapter, the set of changes to be made gets ever smaller.


Saturday, December 1, 2007


5 hours writing, 2 hours processing data, page count = 215 (plus 3-page abstract)

Continued moving forward today on the La Violencia chapter, including processing data regarding allocation of security forces around the 1947 election. The data confirm the politicized nature of the security forces and the disconnect between the army and police. They were tools used for different purposes; the army just went were the people were, but the police were sent where electoral competitiveness was particularly high, indicating more political criteria at play.

I also took care of some cosmetic stuff on the manuscript, inserting the prefatory pages and updating the list of tables and figures. It looks like a real dissertation! I'll wait to write the acknowledgments after I turn in the manuscript; I want to take my time and enjoy the process of recording my gratitude in detail.

Into the homestretch tomorrow!