Eating and sleeping matters!

28 08 2008

I think there should be a claass for postgraduates on balancing life, health, family, work and PhD.  Like Matt already said, it’s important to spend time away from our research. Since the beginning of my candidature, I have made the decision to treat my PhD as a job to keep my weekends free. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to give our brains a break once in a while. At the same time, I’ve been getting so tired, maybe the goat needs a break full stop!

In the past few weeks, I have been doing my data analysis and found it more difficult that I initially expected. I also noticed that in the process of the metahporic jumps over my research hurdles, I am getting more tired. The gray cold winter weather is certainly not helping to boost my spirit and I appreciate the occassional sunny moments on a weekend when I can be outside. The garden has been flowering as never before and it gives me so much joy to leave the computer and literally stop to smell the flowers. The house renovations we do on weekends are quite therepeutical. Somehow holding a paintbrush clears my mind and in a way physical work helps me relax.  

Everyone needs to find their way to preserve their sanity, to find happiness and reach their goals. Each of us is unique – if I were to ride 120km on a bike, trust me, I would die! And the Otter would probably find meditation boring. 🙂 But the truth is that as one starts approaching the finish line, it takes more energy to carry on. Note to self: Eating and sleeping always matter!



Reading between the lines: Unleash the Goat!

23 07 2008

Why is it that I can easily analyse a phone call with my mother and interprete what she said in five different ways but when it comes to analysing my interview data, I feel stuck? Do I feel constrained by the need to maintain some reserach integrity and not let my imagination run wild?  I thought all women are experts in reading between the lines; interpreting creatively what their partners say beyond the words that were actually spoken. Yet I look at an interview transcript and don’t see that clearly behind the text itself.  Maybe I have been striving for objective evaluations for so long now that it seems my own voice has disappeared from my writings.

So I’ve decided today to conduct a little experiment. No more logical brain processing, let’s employ the imaginative side. Let’s see if the good old female intuition has something to offer in interpreting qualitative data and reading between the lines.

Unleash the goat! (photo by the goat herself).

…to be continued. ***Lucie***

The power of cherries in Czech animation?

14 07 2008

Did you know that cherries were the campaign symbol of the Communist Party during the first post-1989 democratic elections in Czechoslovakia? I remember posters with cherries everywhere! 🙂 People would typically ask if someone’s voting for “cherries”…  I think the connection between cherries and the Communist Party has disappeared by now.  I took this photo last month when I was in the Czech Republic and Communists were certainly not on my mind when I was climbing the cherry tree in my parents’ garden.

While on the topic though, I’ve been comparing the working conditions for Czech animators during and after the Communist regime. My interview data provide an  interesting insight into this question. Most literature associates Communist regime with opression and censorship but Czech animators did not feel impacted by these constraints as much. In fact, they believe that economic restrictions today seem to impinge on their production more seriously. I am trying to present my data findings in a thematic analysis, using NVivo software for qualitative data coding and retrieval. I have established a total of 56 theme categories from my interviews so far and intent to refine my thematic structure to about 5 main topics with a handful of sub-categories each. Political censorship is my starting point.


Feeling motivated…

21 05 2008

I’m the opposite to Matt. I like to research in silence, no music, no radio talk. I enter a different world when I write, one of solitute and deep concentration. I tried playing music in my office a couple of times but it drove me ‘crutz’ – a new term I coined yesterday over lunch break. It abbreviates ‘crazy + nuts”. Hey, I should add it to Wikipedia!

My highlight for today was submitting a journal article to “Media International Australia”.  I worked on it for weeeeeks so it feels great to have it finished and submitted. I can happily return to my thesis now. I’ve got a few weeks left on my literature review and then I’m straight into analysing my interview data. My methodology has been drafted and I’ve received some positive feedback on it so far.

To those who think that I sound awefully motivated, I should explain that I’m soon leaving for a much needed holiday. You can question my research motivation after I return, it will be difficult to face reality after a month in Europe. Actually, there was another event the other day that motivated me towards finishing my PhD. I was able to attend a graduation ceremony of our undergraduate IT students, where quite a large number of PhD candidates were officially awarded their doctorates. Interestingly, most of them were women, which is unusual for the Faculty of Information Technology but showed that statistics are on my side! 🙂




19 05 2008

A submission deadline for my next journal article is approaching so in the midst of all other work, my attention turns to finishing this paper.  As I struggle expressing my thoughts in some coherent manner, I can’t help but question what it is about publishing that attracts me to this typically tedious task.  I find academic writing difficult and would much rather polemise about the purpose of our mortal lives.  Well, maybe this already partially answers my question – if I perceive it as challenge, it’s definately a reason to tackle it. “Face your fears”, they say.  So I’m pushing myself…  Once your submission gets accepted and eventually published, the pain is long forgotten. I think that publishing papers during my PhD gives me some sense of achievement, a reassurance that my work is valid, a tiny little closure on the never-ending journey to the summit. And that must be worth my headache!

Lucie, the Goat

I’m feeling… spirals!

13 05 2008

From my experience I have learned that the two biggest obstacles in PhD research are 1) not knowing your direction and what is required and 2) knowing the direction and what is required but feeling overwhelmed by it.  I have successfully arrived at the latter.

By applying a metaphor here – it’s like searching in the dark or being blinded by the light. I remember how exciting it was to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” in my research but the closer I get towards the end and the brighter the light gets, it’s surprisingly exhausting.

I’ve spent today writing about animation techniques, progressing slowly one line at the time… I wonder if my brain has been so sluggish knowing that my much needed holiday’s not far. So to take our otter’s advice, I thought I’d trick my brain by drawing. I am not an artist but find any creative work appealing. Anyway, I grabbed a piece of orange paper (white one would remind me too much of a computer screen) and I started sketching somewhat abstract shapes. Ten minutes later I realized that I’ve done my drawing on ‘auto pilot’. You know the type of hypnotic mode that your mind likes to enter during driving… 

The prevalence of spirals and floral shapes in my drawing intriqued me and since psychologists claim that drawings can reflect our emotions, I googled my “psycho-analysis” for today:

Spirals, carts

“You are not used to ask for help from others. People around you consider you being very helpful in any kind of problem. But you don’t need other people charge – it seems that now you are running in a closed circle. You should stop solving other people problems and pay more attention to your own. Your reputation will not change from that.”

Flowers, small sun

It might seem strange, but drawings which reflect happiness of life (small flowers and sun) say that your mood is far away from joyful. You feel lack of attention, friendship or love now. You are sentimental, and you can be easily affected by melancholy.

As they say: Picture speaks a thousand words. Time to turn off the PC and go home.

The Goat in Me

12 05 2008

Animals, just like humans, are known for particular personality traits. The question is what animal can you relate to based on the characteristics they display. A few years ago, I gave this question a serious thought. Over and over again, I searched for that one animal that would behave like me. And that’s how I arrived at a goat. It’s hardly surprising really since I was actually born as Capricorn. Zodiac descriptions of Capricorns relate to mountain goats in an uncanny way:  known to be ambitious, motivated and determined, steadfast and task oriented. But there’s a lot more to goats.




Goats are typically quite difficult to handle and hard to train, you can’t just stop them from doing goat things because you can’t stop being who they are. Never push on a goat’s forehead – they like to push back but someone can get hurt.

They can be both playful and violent. Competitive aggressiveness in goats is not an unknown trait. I think I inherited this one from my Spartan upbringing, constantly fighting my two older brothers to win my place in the ‘herd’.


The beautiful skill about goats is that they LOVE to climb. Already as baby goats, they climb on their family members. I used to climb on my uncle each time I saw him – God bless soul! He was so patient with me. And so my earliest memories are those of climbing. As a child, I spent school holidays climbing trees with boys in the neighborhood. The good thing about digital divide – we had no computers to stop us from climbing!


Goats have no fear of heights and their daring attitude can scare you. That’s why I look at my PhD as a metaphoric journey to Mt. Everest. I’m constantly climbing, one step at a time and I’m enjoying the challenge. They say nothing stops a mountain goat from reaching the top. In fact, if you ever want to give your goat a gift, give them something to climb on. Even a pile of wood will do.


The other obvious behavior you notice about goats is that they’re always chewing. I look at this as a metaphoric representation of various analytical tendencies. Like goats, I simply like to ‘chew things over’, meaning to explore the issues that need some ‘taking apart’.


And lastly, goats are herd animals. They love to have a friend. Don’t leave them alone.