Saturday, May 31, 2008

America continued

1 hour writing, 6 hours researching, page count = 225

This is for Friday and Saturday together. I've been busy with last-minute preparations for the panel I'm organizing for my giving circle last week, and it seems to be on track. I've also been pulling together references for the interview I had on Wednesday, as they want to continue talking with me. Good news!

I did some work on the third of six episodes in Chapter 4. I need to dig up some more Antioquia-specific information in the data I've already gathered, as most of what I have written now has to do with relevant things that took place in other states.

I also spent some time in the library going through secondary sources about the U.S. comparison. The big difference between my case-study on Antioquia and the stuff on the "in comparative perspective" chapter is that for the latter, I rely on secondary sources, while for the former, I also do primary research. So for the U.S. comparison, I've been enjoying going through some of the best work on American political development, which is a really interesting field that looks at the impact of historical patterns of institutional formation on U.S. politics. Right up my alley.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

America, America

1 hour writing, 3 hours researching, page count = 225

Decided to switch things up, and instead of continuing with the remaining four episodes in Chapter 4, I skipped ahead to Chapter 5 and the Conclusion, and began gathering cites for the Mexico and U.S. comparative sections. I already have something written on Mexico, and am fleshing that section out. The U.S. piece I need to do from scratch, but I got some excellent advices and cites from two Berkeley professors who study American political development, so that was a head start.

The U.S. has some interesting similarities with Colombia in the 19th century, including a stable two-party system, a continually expanding frontier (in the U.S. out toward the Pacific, in Colombia in toward the Andean mountain ranges and valleys), and a significant episode of civil war in the early 1860s. It's been interesting reading in another literature entirely and thinking about how to make the connections.

Tomorrow, I'll get back to the Chapter 4 episodes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


7 hours writing, page count = 222

And the hits just keep on coming. Having drafted a new section on Antioquia for the La Violencia chapter yesterday, I focused today on tightening up the sections focusing on empirical analysis of Antioquia. This involves tightening up what's already there, adding some summarizing language that guides the reader through why I choose the details that I choose to highlight, and going back through the data I gathered last October to cull a few more gems of detail to put in there. Today I got through two of the six episodes I study in the chapter, and will start in on the other four tomorrow.

My job interview this morning went well, they say they're early in the process, so we'll see how it goes. I should hear in a week or two. I feel like I did a good job answering the questions and explaining how I'd be a fit for the organizational culture and the position. All you can do, really.

The blistering writing pace continues. Onward tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


page count = 219

Now that's more like it! It's been a very busy 10 days since I last posted. We had a great trip to the Bay Area for my commencement ceremony. Here's a pic with my very silly Harry Potter-style regalia. I was really grateful to have my family and friends with me on the day. Thanks guys!It was a lot of fun.

And it lit a fire under me to finish this thing! I'm going to file in the summer session, which formally started today, but ever since commencement, I've been writing like a man possessed. I wrote last week while still in Berkeley, I wrote on the plane, I wrote for 10 hours yesterday (Memorial Day!), I wrote for another 5 hours today - and it's generating a lot of great results. I have revised versions of Chapters 2 and 3, and I'm now working on Chapter 4, the Antioquia case study. It's the biggest one of all, and I have a fair number of things to add based on data I've already gathered, but I got a good start today by pulling together an intro section on Antioquia that justifies the choice of that particular state for my case study and introduces relevant context for the empirical work that follows.

As if that weren't enough, things are going well - and busily - on the job and volunteer fronts. I have a probably final interview for one job on Friday, and a second interview for another tomorrow. It's looking fairly promising, let's see how I feel tomorrow. On the volunteer front, I've been putting together a speaker event for my giving circle, which is next Wednesday, June 4. I'm really excited about the program, and we have a conference call with the speakers tomorrow morning, after my interview. More details to follow.

This past weekend, we went to a cool flea market in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, near where my sister used to live, because some of the vendors from the Red Hook Ball Fields were there. I had a carne asada huarache, which was basically well-made, but needed like a salsa or something. The flea market itself was super-cute, and I picked up a couple pair of vintage cufflinks on the cheap.

After seeing the new Indiana Jones, I went back and watched the first three to see how the new one fit into the overall series. Pretty well, I have to say. The first hour-fifteen are great, and then it all falls apart in the last 45 minutes. I was surprised to find myself liking the second one in the series, which most people hate, and which I don't think I'd seen it since it came out. The whole thing got me to thinking how lucky I was to be born a boy in 1973. These are the movies that came out between when I was 5 and 9 years old: Star Wars, Superman, The Empire Strikes Back, Superman II, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. They really don't make 'em like they used to. Although Iron Man got kind of close.

Anyway! I seem to have a lot to say; hmmm, maybe I should actually try posting on a daily basis - what a novel idea....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Greetings from the Bay Area

page count = 195

I've been writing in bits and pieces over the past few days as a number of different things happen. Cathy and I flew out to the Bay Area yesterday. My phone interview on Wednesday went well, and I had an in-person follow-up (in San Francisco, even though the job will be in New York) yesterday that also feels like it went well. We'll see how that all goes.

I'm in town to walk in my department's commencement ceremony on Monday. My outfit is deeply, deeply silly, very Harry Potter-ish. I half expect them to put the Sorting Hat on my head during the ceremony. But my family's in town, and some friends will be joining us for the reception, so it should be a good time. Then I'll be here through the end of next week meeting with my advisors and continuing to advance.

I'm about halfway through revising Chapter 2, and it's going well. That one was always fairly solid; it just needs some re-organizing. Onward!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sweet freedom

5 hours writing, page count = 191

Well, a lot of good things happened today. I got a phone pre-screen for the job app I applied for on Friday, my sports doctor told me I only have to go to physical therapy one more time and then I'm done, and I sent what feel like penultimate drafts of Chapter 1 and the Preface to my advisors. Woo-hoo!

I also got a nice shout-out from New Voices in Philanthropy for my Council on Foundations conference coverage. And plans continue apace for the June 4th VPF event, which you can see more about here. This week is kicking ass so far!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Out, damned germ!

page count = 189

I've been fighting off a cold ever since I got soaked on the first Saturday of Jazz Fest a couple of weeks ago, and this week the bill really came due. I managed to do a little writing in the past couple of days, but not very much. Cathy has an event tomorrow, so I'll come back in and give it another shot.

On the job front, I submitted another job application today, and found another position for which I'm interested in applying that could be a good fit. I've been doing a lot of philanthropy-related blogging this week (I actually had someone say to me last night, "are you the one who was blogging from the Council on Foundations conference for Tactical Philanthropy?"), and today I posted some final reflections on the CoF conference on VPF's own blog, Doing Giving Differently. I also followed up on a thread on foundation transparency at Tactical Philanthropy with a comment of which I'm quite proud. And finally, I confirmed a date and venue for the next VPF event, which will be June 4 at the Foundation Center. Whew! Looking forward to the weekend. Have a good one!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sentences of awesomeness

4 hours writing, page count = 187

One of my favorite blogs, Marginal Revolution, has a running feature, "Sentences of X," that highlights noteworthy points in articles or papers (as opposed to highlighting the whole article or paper). The X can be interest, wisdom, provocation, sadness, etc. Well, today I've been writing sentences of awesomeness as I wrestle the latest draft of the intro to Chapter 1 to the ground. The hardest thing is to begin, and I'm struggling mightily to create the right point of entry into my argument. I'm feeling really good about where I've gotten today.

But the question is, where have I gotten to over the past week? The last month I've been posting sporadically because I've been home only sporadically. On Sunday and Monday I was in the Washington DC area at the Council on Foundations philanthropy mega-conference, representing my giving circle, networking busily, and doing some guest blogging at While fighting off a cold, which I'm still doing.

On the job front, I didn't get the job I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago, but I'm talking with them about maybe doing some consulting over the summer. Had a phone pre-screen for another job today that I thought went well, and am going to submit at least one more application this week, as well as speak with another potential consulting client.

Onward toward graduation!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


4 hours writing, page count = 190-something

Whoops, tomorrow turned into the next day. Today, I focused on teasing out the mechanisms that I had made largely implicit in Chapter 1 regarding the relationships of control within a security-force configuration, working on a sharper articulation of what's distinctive about the Colombian party system, and specifying the impact of police vs. army professionalization. Tomorrow I'll put those new pieces in play and continue reordering Chapter 1.