When working on a dissertation, one of the most crucial components is its research question. It is the argument’s overall purpose–essentially the question the author aims to answer with his or her kajillion-page opus. Having waded through an obscene amount of academic literature on possible topics for the better part of this summer, I recently sat down to take my first stab at my own research question, and thought I’d share some of the questions that didn’t quite make the cut:
1. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, who gives a crap?
2. What are the longitudinal physiological and psychological effects of allowing an old man to knick knack on various parts of one’s body prior to rolling home?
3. To what extent does a random sample of people report whether or not they let the dogs out?
4. Where’s Waldo? (A Case Study)
5. In the event of seeing a little silhouette-o of a man, will a sample population do the fandango? And furthermore, in the presence of very, very frightening thunderbolts and lightning, will they let him go? (The researchers hypothesize that bismilah, no, they will not let him go, even despite numerous protests.)
In addition to classes, a significant portion of my work as a student involves conducting research, and I’m thrilled to report that I recently learned two academic papers I co-authored and submitted to highly-regarded conferences were both accepted and will thus be published. Having never submitted to anything of this caliber, I’m floored to be batting 1.000, and as hard as I work to keep my world spinning, it’s a nice little payoff. I’m convinced the scales were tipped in my favor due to my inclusion of the very same bow-wearing stick figures, pop culture references, and fecal humor you’ve come to expect from this fine publication.
While I have been explicitly forbidden by a gaggle of ninjas to disclose the details of these two strokes of genius before they are published, I will share a new research effort I’ve spearheaded, which involves public transportation. You see, one of the hippest new buzz words in the academic community is “sustainability”–a term I’m convinced some prolific professor coined while drunkenly slurring his words together at a snooty dinner party and that now everyone pretends to know the meaning of. Anyway, I figure if I put “sustainability” in the title, NPR listeners will flock to it like birds who flock to things that birds like, so it’s probably a good career move.
This is usually the time of year I ask inanimate holiday store displays to at least wait until Black Friday to assault me with their raised red and green elven fists. Don’t get me wrong–Christmas is my favorite holiday. I’ve just always felt that when stores crank up the Jingle-Bell Muzak while vampire costumes and Jack-O-Lanterns are still in stock, it undermines the experience of Halloween and Thanksgiving–both excellent holidays in their own right–all to make a few extra bucks. Plus, decking the halls that early and intensely has often left me tired of open-fire chestnut-roasting, intentionally-kitsch reindeer sweaters, and that impressively obnoxious Mariah Carey song long before the actual December 25.
At least that’s what I used to think.
As a parent, you rediscover to the wonder the world inspires. You see things “again for the first time” through your children’s eyes. And that’s why this year is different. This year, my wife and I will be giving the Twins their First Christmas Ever, and we are so psyched for it that we’ve been discussing its grandiose possibilities since June.
This fervor was recently amplified by the arrival of the Target Holiday Toy Sale catalog.
I make a concerted effort to deliver the finest of content to you, O Loyal Reader, at least once a week, as I know most (if not all) of you hang on my every word. If I say so myself, I’ve been fairly successful at writing regularly, even in the face of crippling adversity. I have slept on floors, chugged boiling-hot energy drinks, dodged spit bubbles and Diaper Bullets, narrowly escaped a suburban coyote attack, balanced my ridiculously ambitious schedule, and still have been able to chronicle my escapades on this fine publication.
With that in mind, I’m delighted to share highly classified information with you about some shocking scientific research the U. S. Government has commissioned me to conduct. In the beginning, I was told “Mum” was the word (which was confusing, because I had previously been told that “Grease” is the word), but I fought hard for you all and got a Blanket Security Clearance.
I am in the process of writing up the findings for submission to whichever highly reputable academic journal wins the bidding war, but have summarized the data for you in the following chart: