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Cohort VIII

It is hard to express how close I’ve become with the other surviving members of Cohort 8 over the last year. They are one and all quite exceptional people: smart, caring, involved, thoughtful, and funny (well, almost all of them are funny).

Many of us ‘Facebook’ each other; communicate by texts; SKYPE; and in other ways stay in touch on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.

I have made friends in this program that I expect will stand the test of the rest of my life, or theirs.


3Q Down, 5Q to Go

The 3rd Quarter of the Doctor of Law and Policy program is now complete. I truly enjoyed the work and stretching caused by the work, and I’m looking forward to the next quarter, which will close out my first year.

– Sisyphus

Quantitative Analysis

I am particularly enjoying the Quantitative Analysis course, and conducting my pilot study.  This is the numbers stuff I’ve been looking forward to studying.

The professor for the course, who earned his Ph.D primarily conducting quantitative research, made it clear at the start that most every (but not every) quant research project will be enhanced by qualitative research to round off the edges.  Now I get that.

One third of the way through the program.  My how the time does fly.

A final thought for this post: As I conduct research and make data I can’t help but to notice that:

All Petty Politics Are Local
– Jonathan Kramer

One Third of the Program is now Done…

…and I feel like I’ve hit my stride. I understand what is expected of me; what is necessary to achieve a respectable grade; how to write good papers and occasionally how to write a less-than-good paper; and how to plan my time.

I’m particularly grateful for the fact that our Cohort has formed into a unit where we actually like each other. There are two sub-cliques that have formed, but I tend to ignore them as and I actively engage everyone without regard to their cliques. By the way, we started the Cohort with 25 members. We’re down to 17 now, and one current Cohort member may have to take a leave soon to enter the U.S. Senior Executive Service.

The work is demanding; the reading is long and slow. Why do academics feel like they must impress us with their words? I understand the need for precision, but that doesn’t preclude striving for communicability.

I’m really enjoying this program.


Thesis Random Thoughts

I struggle with what I want as my thesis topic.

I started the program wanting to delve into hedonic (not hedonistic) price modeling after the installation of a nearby cell tower. Looking deeper into the data necessary to pull it off, and the sources and costs for those data, I moved away from that area.

Recently I’ve been thinking about looking at how local governments in California have addressed Section 6409(a) issues in their local ordinances (as best I can tell right now, the working answer is, ‘not much’).

Still thinking…


It’s Back to the Numbers Game

Having finished 2014Q2, I have to admit that I did enjoy the qualitative analysis course far more than I expected.

I’m a numbers guy. I like reducing things to numbers, so I admit to being a quantitative fan. For that reason, the softer, squishier ‘coding’ of qualitative research seemed a bit strange.

What was stranger than squishy coding was discovering the limitations of being an attorney and engineer trying to pull verbal data from my research subjects. Initially, I really sucked at it. More than once I was told by a research subject that my conversational questions seemed more like legal depositions. Oy.

Most important that I now have a good beginning grasp about why qualitative research and analysis can coexist with quantitative research, and why its common for a researcher to like one approach over the other. To each his or her own.

In a few days I start the quantitative analysis classes. I’m looking forward to making primary data, and using secondary data. Like I said above, I like numbers.

It’s off to the races.

Research and Self Reflection

I’ve recently run into a major problem conducting research: I’m perceived as representing only one interest group (local governments) so some potential research subjects won’t talk with me.

I’ve always believed that while I primarily work with local governments, my viewpoints have always been ground in law and technology, rather than in paychecks. I know that my clients would agree with this since I’m often the first person to tell a government when they’re going down a wrong path. All that said, public perception is everything, and something I have to live with.

I suspect my research goals will have to be altered to accommodate my basic need to be able to make data.

Is there privacy in one’s trash put out for collection?

It depends.

If you put your trash at the curb then you have no expectation of privacy in 50 states as to the feds snooping around in it. In 49 states you have no expectation of privacy for similarly-placed trash.

If you’re going to commit a state crime and put evidence in trash, move to New Hampshire and put your trash in opaque bags out on the curb. Under a state supreme court decision opaquely bagged trash is off limits to state and local police.

Live free or die, but know that you can place tape over that phrase on your license plates.

Why this blog?

This blog is very personal: It’s intended as an instructor-recommended way of tracking my personal growth as I progress through Northeastern University’s Doctor of Law and Policy program.

Please understand that I’m not posting to this blog for anyone other than myself.  That means that if you’re snooping around you might not understand why I wrote something, or what I wrote about.

I start this blog with an admission: I am a highly-educated blob.  I have three degrees: An Associate of Science degree; a Juris Doctor degree; and a Masters of Law degree.  I am admitted to two bars: California and New Mexico.  I have served as an expert witness or trial advisor in north of 40 cases.  I have a 20-page 24-page 25 page 31 page CV that even convinces me that I must be smart. Now that I have completed my first quarter in this doctoral program, I wonder how much smarter I’ll have to become to keep up with the really smart cohort members and complete the program.   Luckily, I’m goal driven, so ‘Gentlemen and Gentleladies, start your engines.’