Saturday, June 7

Thesis is Done!

I defended my this on June 3 and it went well.  I am currently in a state of exhaustion and subdued elation.  It feels good to be done even though I have some corrections and improvements that need to be completed before I can hand in the final draft to be printed and bound.  So glad to be done.  A three year and nine month journey that I did not think would take that long.  At least I loved my topic and really enjoyed the travel bloggers who participated.  I need to send them thank you emails as well as an official copy of the thesis when it is published online.  Now I am going to enjoy my summer then return to blogging myself.  But an enjoyment of summer comes first, including a trip to Europe starting next week.  A well done pat on the back from me to me.  Going with my mother and I am excited!  Congratulations to everyone graduating during this spring season.  Well done to all of us who pushed through the difficult times and joyous moments to experience the end.  Yippeeeee!

Monday, October 7

Dad's Support

My dad needs to replicate himself so more people can have a dad like him.  All these thoughtful comments while he is on a cruise ship and should be having tons of fun rather than reading my thesis.

Exhibit A:

Hi Tonia, 

I’ve read your thesis over more than once and I find it fascinating.  

Knowing that you have given all that you have to writing the thesis and yet have it still not considered finished is more than discouraging.  After all the sweat, blood and tears you have put in, you are right to ask, “What else do I have to do?” 

It is tough to meld academic rigour with heartfelt comments that bubble up from a subject in response to one of your questions.  Cold hard dispassionate quantifiable logic is hard to apply to human actions regardless what a researcher is trying to uncover much less the motivation of people who write selflessly about their own travel experiences to help others. 

The summary of all that has been done to add to our knowledge about the topic (your thesis) needs to reflect the amount of work it took to gain that knowledge, which it does, but written in a way that meets the precision and clarity of thought demanded of the academic environment, while at the same time retaining the human touch.  A bit of creative tension, to say the least. 

It may be one of those times when you have to scream, “I’m tough and I am going to nail this thing!” After all, you are not going through all this to satisfy someone’s notion of scholarly prose, but to communicate to fellow researchers, the subjects you studied, and the wider community of the intellectually curious how the paradigm shift brought on by new technologies has affected a global industry, travel and tourism. 

I’m reviewing the thesis starting with Chapter IV and will pass on my comments in the next e-mail. Stay tuned. 


Saturday, September 7

Missed a Few Months...How....

Wow. I have never missed two months of blogging since I started this blog a few years ago. It is not that I don't have things to blog about, it is about the time factor.  Now that I am in the workforce full-time again, I have a position of management, I continue to write my thesis (despite sacrifices of my recreation time and other life activities), and I moved to a new adult, grown-up, professional apartment. All of this means less time to sit and write creatively for this online space. I don't want to be the type of person that abandons one's blog so I will quickly add this update and a photo from my new balcony and say that after I defend my thesis this Fall (cross my fingers and get to work), I shall be back to blog on a regular basis.

Thanks to my mum, Aunt Arta and others who may read, I do enjoy writing this blog so I shall be back. In the interim, I shall be staring out at this view and I sit and complete my fourth rewrite for my final thesis document.

Thanks to Photosynth, I can give you an almost 180 degree view of what I see every morning and night. Lucky me!

A bien tôt!

Saturday, June 29

Another Voyage

So my life is set up into different chunks of time and focus.  While I was traveling, this blog was about travel.  While in grad school, I focused on it (but I have not caught up with all that I want to say so more to come).  Now that I am a leader or boss of a small organization (I prefer leader), this blog may get a bit theoretical as I attempt to learn how to become a good leader rather than devolve into a horrible one.  This will take active practice and work and I am already staring at six book on leadership from the library taunting me from my kitchen table.  The topic?  LEADERSHIP.  This may mean I lose a few of my eleven or so readers but hey, I write for myself and the process as much as for you (but I really like you a lot so please stay!).

While attempting to finish the thesis that will never end, I read the following quote from an article about economic or extrinsic rewards in business, versus social or intrinsic rewards in business.  Essentially, should organizations create elaborate reward programs to light a fire underneath their employees butts to encourage them to share their knowledge (which apparently people don't do naturally, as we hoard knowledge, much like the show...I wonder if my brian on the inside looks like some of those living rooms...).  Well, as it turns out, people are more apt to share knowledge if they are able to identify intrinsic reasons to do so:

"Employees who think knowledge sharing would increase the scope and depth of associations among organizational members tend to have a positive attitude toward knowledge sharing.  Their positive attitudes toward knowledge sharing are formed by the expectations of reciprocation on knowledge sharing.  Moreover, employees who believe in their ability to contribute to improvements of organizational performance have a positive attitude toward knowledge sharing. Therefore, we should pay more attention to enhancing the positive mood state for social associations which precedes knowledge sharing behaviours and should provide useful feedback to improve the individual's self-efficacy instead of designing an elaborate evaluation and incentive system."
- Bock. G. W., & Kim, Y-G. (2002). Breaking the Myths of Rewards: An exploratory study of attitudes about knowledge sharing. In Information Resources Management Journal, 15(2), 14-21.

Self-efficacy in this study is defined as "people's judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances", a definition which was stole borrowed from Bandura (1996).

Essentially what this says is that my decision to provide an employee this week, who has been invited to participant in...let's say...'turf management', was a good choice.  This may foster a greater desire to contribute to our small but impressive organization, because he will have developed social associations that will motivate him to contribute for intrinsic reasons, which always last longer than extrinsic motivations.  This is why when I was at that crazy school and the administration pretended to listen to the teachers' ideas but really didn't, they did not get feedback when they asked us questions during staff meetings because we had no intrinsic reasons to share our knowledge with them, the leaders of a school, as we knew our organization would not improve without a change in management.  Sharing would have been a waste of our marvellous contributions.  This makes sense now.

I hope 'turf management' does not make anyone lazy.  :)  

Saturday, June 22

Zoe at the Special Olympics

Life is really busy right now with a new job, finishing thesis, and now a flood in my hometown and I am making sure my house is not being washed away.  The good news is, my sister competing in Alberta' Special Olympics this weekend in Devon, Alberta.  Despite the flooding, the event is going on as it is further north and not in the flood zone.  Here is a blog post my mother wrote about the event.  More to come later.

Apparently the Olympics went very well and Zoe won a silver medal and three bronze medals.  One medal for each event she entered.  Very cool Zoe!  I shall call in the next few days to hear her stories.

Zoe Wins Four Medals

Thursday, May 30

Life Update

I can't believe where the past few months have gone.  Crazy busy plus I just got back from a trip to visit family and friends in Calgary.  The purpose of the trip was to begin taking my belongings back to Calgary as I am near graduation, only having had two work related interviews, and no job offers.  My winter gear and all other assorted accoutrements were pack to drive back to Calgary and I received a phone call asking me to come to a job offer meeting.  Yep.  A job offer and I am not finished my degree yet.  This has never happened to me before.  All those hours of volunteering, spent typing at my computer, meeting and greeting people in a new province paid off and I was being offered a job.

When I went to the interview I was ready to negotiate but the organization that wanted to hire me was not.  They had pulled out of their budget what they could and it was a take it or leave it option.  The pay is not great, in fact at my yearly review next summer I will be asking for a big raise, but the opportunity to lead this recreation organization in Manitoba will be phenomenal.  I am excited and surprised, intimidated and in awe of full-time employment.  For the record, this will be the first time in ten years I have to work over the summer.  (No sympathy from you nine readers eh?)

Wish me luck and skill and I venture forward and finish my thesis at the same time!


Tuesday, April 30

Women of Note Concert

Come one come all to the concert of Women of Note here in Winnipeg on Sunday, May 5.  We are performing a variety of songs including ABBA, a song from Zambia, a song written in Mexico called Oye, beautiful French tune by Faure and Rutter, the very difficult piece Laudate Dominum by Hovland, one of Eric Whitacre's lullaby's set to music, spiritual Heaven Bound Train, and finally the interesting and progressive song Past Life Melodies by Sarah Hopkins.  You will have the chance to listen and sing along as an audience member.  Come and have some fun this Sunday!

Sunday, April 28

Crunch Time 4

My body crashed and burned this weekend.  It appears that both my brain and my body realized that major parts of my life are ending and both decided to just stop and rest.  I am very lucky that I get to take the time to relax and recuperate as most of the weekend was spent cleaning my apartment and being exhausted.  I am hoping I get my energy back early this week.  My exhaustion level has been ridiculous.  So tired.  3.5 hour nap today and I may even go to bed on time.  To all you people thinking of grad school, do it but know that, like with other large projects, utter exhaustion is inevitable multiple times throughout the process, especially at the (almost) end.  Something productive will happen tomorrow.....

Saturday, April 27

Crunch Time 3

So I did it.  I handed in my thesis to my professor earlier this week.  Now begins several months of re-writes.  I wonder how sick I will be of my thesis before it even goes to my committee?  While I await the first set of re-writes I am hearing horror stories of both the length of time other grads have experienced for re-writes and how many people cry either during or after their thesis defence.  Despite some harsh criticism of two parts of my thesis, I did not cry during or after the proposal, but I was in shock for about a week.  Walking around thinking about how I could have made the proposal better to have avoided the criticism, as well, wondering where a university's responsibility begins in teaching about their students how to complete research, and where the individual grad student's responsibility begins.  Besides, open verbal group feedback is a very difficult experience and chilled me a bit to the bone.  Then again, that is the whole point of a thesis committee, the group that gives you ideas about how to improve your work, your abilities as a researcher, and your writing.  A bit of a double-edged sword, pointing out the weaknesses while at the same time helping the individual to improve through little tiny repetitive cuts to the top layer of skin.  Hopefully I can handle what comes.  The end is near, I just have to sustain my level of progress until the very end.

Towards the end I looked like every other crazy student's space: papers everywhere, books piled in each other, pens, pencils and highlighters all over the place, cups of leftover beverages strewn about, piles of dishes in the sink, semi-rotten food in the fridge, running out of clothes to wear, few clean towels left, and a dirty apartment that scared me.  The picture below is the cleaned up version of my study space (you will not be seeing the rest of the apartment).  Should have taken a shot before I organized.  It was a hilarious, academic mess.    

Worry, not, I was not bored after I handed in my thesis as my student political career winds down at the end of this month as well.  What a strange and eclectic ride that has been.  Full of the interesting, bizarre, and overwhelming experiences that can crush one's soul or bend you in ways you thought you were not flexible.  I had to have a long conversation around January with a colleague about the sacrifices I was making to complete this political work and the tole it was taking on my academic progress.  At the time I was being steam rolled by a colleague and it was exhausting and disappointing, but not worth delaying my academic progress.  From this and other experiences I have learned that democracy is illusive and hard to work through as a process.  I am willing to interpret rules in order to serve people and ensure their needs are met, but there are multiple interpretations of rules and critical thinking is always necessary.  We serve people, not words on a piece of paper, but the ideas attached to those words are important and subject to interpretation.  This makes democracy challenging and formidable.  It has been an interesting few years.  

As these two main pieces of my life come to a close, work that has occupied my life for three years, I wonder about the next steps.  I am lucky as I have already had several job interviews for work in both the tourism and recreation fields.  This weekend I am spending time thinking about what I want from life, and I wonder what the future holds for me and what choices I will be asked to make.  All unfolding uncertainties.  Exciting and a bit scary at the same time.

Off to create a poster and re-read my thesis just for improvement sake...again.
I'll keep you posted.