Today I left the villa early, at 7.25 pm and drive to FAU arriving there around 7.35 or so. The car park was quiet and it was easy to get a space. I worked all morning on student assessments and on preparing exam questions and marking criteria for my module. I saw one or two colleagues but it was mostly quiet this morning. I had a Skype call to UWS at 11.30 to engage in a mock viva for one of my students, Robert. It was good to see my colleagues there in Ayr.
I left the office at 1.50pm, drove around to Publix and got a few groceries and then went back to the villa and had lunch. Karen and Alan and I then played in the pool and went into the jakuzzi which was fun (Alan loved it!) Later, I went for a walk to the beach and then we had dinner in the villa and then watched TV and read.
These early morning shifts are how I am intending to structure my days while Karen and Alan are here so that I can get back in the afternoons whenever possible. The sun is still shining although the temperature is lower than it was but still very warm. The villa and the views outside are lovely and will be even better once Gino next door moves his huge boat to go on a cruise around the Bahamas. He gave me a bottle of red wine from his bar tonight which is supposed to be really nice. He certainly has a great lifestyle – he owns two boats, a sports car, a large truck and all three of these villas on the block where we are staying!
We got up around 9 today and I went out for a quick run and to try and find the private beach which we have access to at the villa. I found it and it is beautiful – very secluded and picturesque. I went back over to the villa, got showered and then karen, Alan and I went out for breakfast. After trying the O-Hop we discovered we would have to wait 45 minutes so we went to Denny’s instead and had a great breakfast. Alan enjoyed having tea with his pancakes and bacon!
We then went to Walmart and did a big grocery shop. My goodness, I thought I was buying a lot of groceries at one point but it was nothing to the amount that Karen bought today! Alan and I helped to load everything onto the trolley we got a new set of earphones for him and then we put the bags into the car. It was fun not having to think and allowing Karen to the take the lead in the supermarket after 2.5 months of having to do everything myself!
We went back to the villa and relaxed. It was lovely day and the place we are in is really lovely. Alan and I played in the pool for a while with a ball and then I went out to get pizza from a local takeaway shop. We ate the pizza and then I did some work while Karen and Alan had an early night – they are exhausted after their long journey yesterday. It was really nice having my family around me again. It feels like a long time since 4th January when I said a tearful goodbye to them at Glasgow airport!
Today I went for breakfast to i-hop and then went back into Boca and went to my yoga class at 11.30. I felt great afterwards and then went back to the apartment and got the whole place cleaned, bed linen changed and bags all packed up. I then drove round to Highland Beach and unpacked in the new villa. I met Gino and gave him the balance of our payment.
I then lay i the sun for a while out the back, went shopping to Publix and then went to get Alan the ice cream he likes and Karen some vodka from the liquor store. I came back, had a gin and tonic and then had my dinner and then waited … at around 10pm Karen and Alan finally arrived. It was great to see them – it seems like a lifetime since we have been together. Alan looks as if he has grown ….
At last, we are back together as a family.
This was a much calmer day than yesterday! I went to the gym, then went to work and worked on my book chapter, class preparation and grading of student essays. I had coffee with my friend and colleague Lisa Dario and we began planning doing some new work together which will continue after I go back to Scotland – Lisa and i have lots in common, including an interest in policing and in the impact of taser use on offenders. We plan to some follow up research on this and it is very exciting.
I had lunch, finished up work and then went back to the pool for a couple of hours to relax. I then had a nice walk around campus before dinner. Tomorrow, Karen and Alan arrive and I during my evening walk I reflected on the fact that I have reached a huge milestone – from tomorrow I will be reunited with my family and the long solo journey I have been on will be over. It will be great to have them here and begin a more relaxing part of my journey here.
In the evening I packed up my things ready to move tomorrow to the villa in Highland Beach.
Today was not a great day with things going a bit wrong. I began the day with a visit to the gym and a yoga class there. I then went into work and tried to sort out some details of examination team appointments for my PhD students in Scotland. Following this, I did some work on my book chapter and class preparation and had lunch.
Then the fun began. I drove up the i-95 to go to West Palm Beach to visit the Boys and Girls Club of PBC so that I could do the focus groups with young people there before Karen and Alan arrive. Half way up I had a puncture and I had to pull into the hard shoulder. The entire tyre on the passenger side was in ruins – this was the tyre that was flat before and that the car hire company blew air into, but I thought at the time they should have replaced it. It seems that I drove over something on the road that then was the final straw for the tyre. I called the car hire company and they arranged to get a tow company to come out. Two hours later I was still sitting there, and when the tow truck did come the driver was extremely rude and aggressive. However, I was taken to the enterprise company office in West Palm Beach and they gave me a replacement car and they were very nice and helpful. I then drove to the Boys and Girls Club and got there for 7pm, having left the office at 3pm. I managed to do one focus group with the kids but will need to go back to the other ones next week.
One of these days set to try us. I arrived back down the road at 8.30 and had my dinner. Hopefully things will be better tomorrow!
Today I spent some time in the office getting ready for next week’s class and then went and taught my class at 11am. Fresh back from the spring break, the students were keen to get started again and we looked today at the policing of young people, focusing particularly on discussing their own experiences of the police and then I shared insights into the use of stop and search in Scotland. I introduced them to the research that suggests a link between procedural justice and perceptions of police legitimacy, and the international evidence that suggests that the overuse of stop and search or stop and frisk can often undermine police departments’ commitment to procedural justice values. I talked to the students about the crisis that Police Scotland faced between 2014-15 in terms of the unprecedented level of media and political attention on and criticism about stop and search tactics, and the subsequent journey the force went on to regain public confidence through scrutiny reviews, improvements plans and the setting of an advisory group that eventually led to the code of practice that has just been approved by government. I shared my own research with them and the insights I gained about the impact of stop and search on young people, and the students then discussed the links between Foucault’s work on the panoptican and young people’s experiences of stop and search. We had some great discussion and I just feel the class is so much more relaxed now because we all know one another so well. It is an absolute joy to teach these students and hear their views on all of the gritty issues we tackle in class.
In the afternoon I conducted a telephone interview with one of the Sergeants from St Lucie County and then went back and had something to eat before travelling to West Palm Beach. This evening, the police and the juvenile justice department had set up a games night for the young people who had participated in the Kids and Cops sessions I attended in January and February, and I had the opportunity to conduct interviews with three of the young people. I gained a lot of real good insights into their experiences with the police and the positive impact the workshops had had on their relationships with them. There was also some playing of jenga, table tennis and pictionary and it was nice to see all the people who participated in the sessions again. I feel I have got to know these police officers really well.
I drove down the road and got back around 9pm. It is now only 3 days until Karen and Alan arrive, and I have nearly all of my fieldwork done – just some interviews with offenders and with three officers still to do. And to finish the book chapter I am working on and get my class ready for the next two weeks – then I hope to have a holiday from the end of March until they leave.
This morning I went to the gym first and then went into the office at 9,30. It was a quieter day today after the high of yesterday. I worked on chapter 4 of my new book for most of the day, and also began preparing next week’s session for the students.
I also managed to set up a telephone interview with Sgt Rob Pettit for tomorrow – he is the sergeant I worked with in Port Lucie the other week, and also to set up the follow-on focus groups with the kids in the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County for Thursday.
I had lunch from the Breezeway – a really nice soup and a bagel with turkey and salad. I also had lots of good chats with my colleagues today. Lincoln has returned from having got married last week and we are all just waiting to see his photos. Vaughn told me today he is really looking forward to meeting my wife and son and said that if they are half as relaxed and good fun as my mother and my sister then it will be great! Cassandra is arranging a visit for a few of us to go and get a tour around the PBC jail, and Seth, Vaughn and I are due to meet soon to begin to plan a joint paper together, using some of my insights from the data from the police and their own previous statistical insights into violent crime across the county. Lisa and I will also meet this week to talk about some future work we want to do together. John had a meeting with the WPB chief today and she has kindly agreed for me to bring Alan into the WPB police station to get a tour when he is here, and he might also get out in a police car – I am sure he will love it! so much happening and so many great people around me who will be hard to say goodbye to when I go home.
In my office, I now have a police drug enforcement sweat shirt hanging proudly on my wall which I received as a gift from Lenny, a former officer with the drug squad who attended my lecture yesterday. It is surrounded by various replica badges i have received from cops in St Lucie and in Palm Beach County – a great collection!
After I came home and had my dinner I went to my yoga class – a busy class tonight with 11 people in it!
Today was a full and busy day. I got into work around 8.50 and worked on getting a Turnitin link set up for students to submit their coursework essays this week online and got some reading done before going over to the room where the spring colloquium was held at 12pm. There was a good turnout of around 40 people – most of the Faculty members from the School came, some graduate and undergraduate students. Adam Dobrin introduced me and gave a very nice introduction, naming the number of peer reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters I have written and grants I have acquitted. I then talked for around 45 minutes about my ten years’ with of research in Scotland on gangs, sharing my insights into the causes and impact of the gang violence, the scenario ten years ago and the types of interventions that have been put in place to reduce the problem. There were lots of questions and discussion afterwards and the session was really well received. I had photos taken at the end and lots of people came and spoke to me and congratulated me afterwards. It was one of these sessions where I just felt everything had gone really well and I was buzzing afterwards!
I returned to the office and did some more work and then John Smykla and I went for dinner at 4.30pm to PF Changs across the road. I then went and did a guest slot at John’s undergraduate class on research methods, introducing students to my ethnographic research methods and the ethical issues that ethnography often involves. Again, lost of questions and discussion.
I got back to the apartment at 8.30 knackered but it has been a great day.
I woke this morning in time to see the second half of the Rangers v Celtic game on an online link and managed to see the equalising goal by Hill which was great. I then was getting ready to go to church thinking I had plenty to time, only to discover that the clocks had gone forward last night here meaning it was 10.30 rather than 9.30. I rushed round the road and got to church half an hour late but just in time for the sermon starting at 11am. The focus was on John 6: 22-71, exploring the questions that were asked of Jesus by the crowds after he had conducted various miracles. It was a good sermon by Pastor Bill, and I managed to speak to Bob and told him why I had missed the study group these last few weeks. He is looking forward to meeting with Karen and Alan when they arrive here.
I went back to the apartment and had lunch, skyped home and did some work down at the pool. It got cloudy and stormy so i went back upstairs and did my work indoors. I had my dinner and then went to the gym so that I could do my workout this evening instead of tomorrow morning since I have the spring colloquium tomorrow and want to get in early. when I came back I cleaned up the apartment and got ready for bed.
Well, now only 6 more days until Karen and Alan arrive – I can’t believe how the time has gone in.
I began the day by going for a run around campus. It was a beautiful morning and I came across a few of the iguanas en route. I then went out to IhOp for breakfast – it was great there, a bigger portion of breakfast and I got to sit up at the counter which was good – I think I will choose to go there in future instead of the OHop.
After that I went shopping to Walmart, getting some things in for myself to last me until next week and getting some apple juice for Alan, milk and water and bubble bath for Karen. I then drove around to an amusement centre on Airport Road to get the ice-cream Alan loved when he was in Orlando – dipping dots, which they only sell in a few places. I just hope that they stay frozen enough in the freezer until next weekend for him coming here ! I came back to the apartment, skyped home and told Karen and Alan about the stuff I had got and then drove round to Deerfield Beach.
It took ages to get parked in the multi-storey there but eventually I got in and then went and spent a couple of hours on the beach. I lay in the sun, went into the sea and walked along the beach. There was a wedding on the beach and I watched to see the bride walk across the sand with 6 bridesmaids! I then had a coffee at one of the cafes by the beach and enjoyed the view of the sand and the blue sea. After, I walked up past an Irish bar which was in full swing. While walking, I became aware of a young guy turning towards me and saying ‘how are you doing?’ At first I was a bit wary and wondered why he was speaking to me. Then he said ‘I saw you in the car hire shop’ and as I looked around I recognised the guys he was with – it was the guys I spoke to while I was in renewing my car, who had also grumbled about the service the company offered. I laughed and they laughingly asked me if I had got my car sorted and said that they eventually got theirs too. Small world – you don’t expect to meet people in two places here because it is so vast. I would never have recognised them, but clearly my Scottish accent stands out and makes it difficult for me to be anonymous!
I came back, had dinner and did some work while enjoying a couple of gins and tonic.