bonus question comes first! Can one easily get from Long Beach to Irvine by public transportation? (I'm talking to you, SoCalians... any hints? I have the chance of free lodging in place IR but conference will be in place LB.)
Very little success at breaking into Chapter 2 thus far. Exacerbated by the bout of drinking-and-discussing-movies that followed the diss workshop on my Chapter 1 last night. That discussion had some resemblance to a confused octopus--one tentacle would latch onto something and drag itself in one direction, another tentacle would get distracted and start playing with tentacle 3, and they'd end up in a knot, while tentacle 1 persistently grabbed onto its object and tentacles 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 watched amusedly or patted me on the head. (No one-to-one correspondence between persons and tentacles should be implied.) The bulk of the suggestions were either minor or things I already figured I'd have to deal with whenever I return to the chapter; the one larger interesting conceptual issue that came up happened in a side discussion while other tentacles were arguing amongst themselves about what the role of theory should be in a dissertation chapter.
One of the slightly annoying aspects of the meeting was that the faculty member who attends, and whose interests actually overlap with mine, didn't have that much to say, and what he did say was along the lines of "theory sucks, get rid of all other voices in your chapter." (I believe I will get rid of *some* of them, thanks.) Thus far he hasn't been particularly active in giving feedback, perhaps because he doesn't want to seem overbearing as the only faculty member there; what feedback he gives is often polemical in a non-hostile way (i.e. one can argue with him without worrying about a Faculty Power Dynamic). What I'd been hoping from him and from the other students was that if they didn't have substantive improvements to suggest, we could discuss some of the issues in a more collegial way. That happened with a couple of people, but not as many as I'd hoped.
So... not *the* most useful meeting, but not the worst. I received independent confirmation of my adviser's comment that it's "very much a first chapter" (translation: still working through some larger issues that frame the argument overall; overly polite). And today I received confirmation that going to sleep at 3:30 results in a lazy day.