At 12pm today I handed my supervised research project “Religious Restraint and Public Policy” across the counter at the University of Auckland Law School. It felt like quite a moment and it had been quite a morning.
Last night I was feeling quietly confident about heading to bed at a sane hour. Matt had given the draft his approval and by 8pm I had emailed it off to both my external editors for feedback on the argument and content (my father who holds a Masters in English for grammar, punctuation and typo checking and Glenn Peoples whose doctorate in philosophy was on religion in public life). I then went through the footnotes and got them all compliant with the law school style guide. I created the bibliography (4.5 pages single spaced comprising 42 books, 14 articles!) I felt quietly confident about going to bed at a sensible hour and worrying about sorting out the title, writing one small paragraph in the morning and adding in the feedback from Dad and Glenn.
All was going to plan in the morning. By about 9.30am I had incorporated Glenn’s emailed feedback, was halfway through a coffee and Dad was running me through the things he’d found over the phone (he doesn’t do email) and all of a sudden, just as we’d finished the first page everything switched off. Power cut. Crap. Our laptop died a while ago so no battery, I was staring blankly at a blank screen while Dad was saying in my ear “on line 4 of page 2 you need to add…”
Visions of handing my hard drive over the law school counter at 12pm ran through my mind. I’d already had a week’s extension. I didn’t want to ask for another one. Argh!
I phoned the power company and they couldn’t tell me much beyond they thought there was a fault, it seemed big given the number of calls they were getting and they had no idea how long it would be off for or how much of Auckland was affected. I got on the phone to our friends. Most of them did not answer as they all have modern phones that use electricity. Those I got hold of said their power was out. I even rang friends on the other side of Auckland contemplating driving half an hour, or more with traffic lights out all over the city, with the computer so I could get the essay off it. No one had power.
Just as I was starting to really panic, and just as I finally found a friend with power who lived in the inner city – there is no way the power company would let the CBD go down if it could help it, though I should have thought of that sooner – it finally came back on. I got Dad back on the phone, got the final proof sorted, abandoned the extra paragraph and then wasted about 15 minutes trying to name the thing before I could print it!
I’m pleased to report I managed to drive fairly lawfully to the law school (I didn’t speed but I did do a lane change to avoid a lengthy queue that technically only buses are allowed to do). I managed to walk sedately to the counter (once I ran and was in horrific pain for days). I got the submission forms filled out, handed it over to be stapled (my stapler at home said “yeah right” to stapling 40 pages) and submitted it with 30 seconds spare. Phew!
I know for those readers of this blog with PhD’s and books available on Amazon.com, a 10,000 word research project at undergraduate level probably does not seem that much but the first time you actually write something bigger than the standard University essay on the set topic using the set readings, the first time where you choose the topic and the resources and you take the argument where you want to go, you suddenly see that achieving things like books on Amazon.com and PhD’s are really within reach.
I put a lot of work into this piece. I really wanted to produce something publishable in something other than a law student journal, which is why it sucked so much time off me and saw us neglect the blog (something that if you know me, should tell you a lot about what this meant to me). As I have said previously, I am hoping that this work will atone for my somewhat patchy academic transcript and open the doors for me into a masters of jurisprudence. With my transcript as it is, a full house of grades, no honours (there are reasons for why my record does not reflect my ability, see the link above) a poor grade in this supervised research could be the nail in the coffin of the masters dream; so, as I have said to Matt ad nauseum over recent weeks, “it is not allowed to come back with anything other an an A written on it and preferably not an A-.” Anyway, time will tell if I have achieved any of these things!
I should probably wait until it is graded before I publish it as a series on this blog (frustrating as that means I have to come up with fresh material to blog with and I still have an exam to pass yet on the 11th) but I don’t want to mess anything up inadvertently.