Monday, 17 December 2012

Day 12: A rather nondescript day...

Day 12: The day was always scheduled to end with a concert by one of the music groups I play in. But before then, it was business as usual: up early, breakfast, feed the lorikeets, get to work, attend meetings, lock self in office in the meantime to tie up loose ends. 

The lorikeets awaited at 6.12am
Some days you wake up knowing you have about four days work to do with about four hours in which to do it. Add to that, it was a rather warm, mid-30 degrees heat sort of day and quite a bit of smoke haze still around. So today, 6.12am was just that, starting with feeding the lorikeets. They're wild, but they know how to get attention. 

I was listening to 612 at 6.12pm
The evening was about the aforementioned concert. I play in a clarinet choir---about 25-30 clarinets--and we play a number of community concerts. December is a busy time with Christmas concerts. I was almost there, a church Christmas Festival on the northside of Brisbane, at 6.12pm tonight, I had just arrived in the car. But there is a small supplementary photo there to, because who needs to see the interior of a car...

A little light music at 6.12pm-ish
(Japan time) 
Much of the day outside meetings was consumed by media-related queries about the Japanese election result. It will be an interesting time. Maybe that's what the lorikeets were alerting me to this morning. As for other matters, I have a headful of issues concerning workplace health and safety...just that kinda nondescript day really. 

[Are the patterns developing yet?]

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Day 11: Psephy heaven: #JapanVotes

Day 11: A hot and muggy one here in Brisbane but most of my attention naturally, has been diverted towards the election in Japan today. Still, with just a few days before I head up to Tokyo for some election and related research, the boring and mundane still goes one. 

If it is Sunday, must be
washing day... 6.12am
At 6.12am today, I found myself again doing the washing, anticipating a long and busy day ahead. It also meant making lists of gifts and other requests I need to fulfil for friends and colleagues in Japan. It meant a trip into the city on a weekend I would normally do my Christmas shopping...(actually, no, not really; I'm not that organised, I'm really very last minute when it comes to that little job). 

Let the analysis begin: Japan votes at 6.12pm
I've been following my twitter timeline quite closely today. I noted that if Japan's government were to be determined by tweeps on my timeline, Japan would end up with a reasonably progressive, anti-nuclear power government. Twitter is quite popular in Japan (compared with Weibo in China) and I've managed to draw a lot of up-to-the-minute news on the election via twitter. There's also a lot of interest in the Japanese media about the influence of twitter on the political discourse--it looks like a very interesting comparative study coming up for me...

Work then, has been the order of the day. I'll be spending much of the night following the results, though we're not likely to get a result until tomorrow, and then no doubt a few days of the usual argy-bargy as parties jostle for coalition influence. 

A Google election? 6.12pm
By 6.12pm, I'd set up the computer for examining the results. The newspapers usually set up special pages on their websites, full of all the sort of data that political nerds like me like to mine. I was interested to see that the was a special Google page link from the main election page on the Asahi Shimbun website. Closer investigation revealed (photo at left) that it is a special 'googlised' search page for the election: find your candidates, understand the parties, even 'hangout' with some of the candidates. How interesting. Anyway, it doesn't get much better than this, for me. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm still here at 6.12am, tomorrow, Day 12...

Sunday is typically a sporty sort of day; the test continues in Hobart, Australia might have the upper hand over Sri Lanka but, knowing cricket...who knows until the last ball is bowled. In the wake of the Connecticut shooting yesterday, the Queensland Government has made headlines today for making changes to state gun laws to make it easier to own and use them (albeit with restrictions). I don't know, I still think we can do better than that. 

And as that cooling evening breeze makes it timely appearance, it's time for me to return to Japan. Votes.  

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Day 10: A day overshadowed...

Day 10: When a day begins with news of another gun massacre in the United States, you just know it's going to be a day overshadowed. This one involved the shooting of some twenty children and seven or eight adults...the figures not yet final at time of writing. Australia has strict gun laws. For many of us here, the relaxed laws in the United States remain a challenge to understand. Much of today's conversation reflected on the despair of the families of those murdered in such a callous and inexplicable way; the possible Christmas presents never to be unwrapped, the parents who shall never hug their children, the speculation (as always happens) about the motives of the gunman.

Listening to the radio, and reading
as news of the day unfolded. 6.12am
Such was the moment at 6.12 this morning. I found myself listening to reports on the radio as the news unfolded; the speech made by the United States President Obama, the anguish heard in his voice. It is times like these that I appreciate the immediacy of radio and admire the way in which the presenters capture the developments. Saturday morning is usually ABC NewsRadio for me until a switch over to Radio National. Mike Gardiner, the presenter, covered the events with a real sense of immediacy.

I also tend to read a little before I get up, when I have the luxury of time to do so. Some twenty or so years ago, a senior colleague in the Department where I then worked, just mentioned in passing that he always set aside extra time in the morning to read, rather than late at night. It's something I tried back then and yes, when time permits, it is far more efficacious than those last few moments before sleep.

A job done 6.12pm
Japan is not too far away now. Today was a day filled with busy-ness including visiting my mother who lives on the Gold Coast. That trip was delayed by yet another multi-vehicle pile-up in the motorway, this time apparently, al occupants were OK (though the cars certainly didn't look like that). The weekend also means doing a few of those chores that must be done. The lawn mowing is in fact one of my favourites, and so it was at 6.12pm I found myself skirting the trees and trimming the grass. There's always a sense of 'completion' with the lawn, something which contrasts with my day job, where somedays 1000 words might flow quite freely and others I might have spent hours just crafting the perfect paragraph.

But the day began and ends with thoughts of that gun massacre. Tighter gun controls seem to have worked in other jurisdictions; they seem politically impossible in the United States. And as I mowed, I wondered about the juxtaposition of state laws which can ban such weapons and yet utilise them in wars against other nation-states. It is the sort of puzzle which is central to my work as an international politics and security specialist. It is what troubled me for most of the day and certainly at 6.12am and 6.12pm; moments in life we can take for granted.

Tomorrow, Japan goes to the polls; tomorrow will be just another work day for me. For families in Newtown in Connecticut, US...well, I just can't begin to imagine.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Day 9: Peaked! @612ABC @0612

Day 9: If this were a project about capturing the 'it' photo and then winding up, then the project might end today, not 356 days from now. Readers will know that the '612' motif is a nod to Brisbane's local ABC station, but it's not always about the ABC. It's more about acknowledging the wonderful community engagement and participation by listeners, tweepsters and ABC staff. 

@6.12am in Studio 400 @612Brisbane;
Spencer doing his serious 'ABC' presenter voice. 
Notwithstanding that, from time to time, by virtue of my position as an academic, I do get asked to comment on matters political. Mostly it has been on 612 ABC and ABC Gold Coast. It is a privilege to be asked and I take it seriously. I generally spend a bit of time prepping for questions. With the Japanese election approaching on Sunday, Breakfast presenter Spencer Howson asked me into the studio this morning to have a bit of a chat about the election. Actually, it started out with interrogation about why I had never watched the movie 'Love Actually' following an innocent tweet last night, that I'd never seen it. Eventually (hehe) we got to the point of the interview which was a bit about Japan, the election and why we should be interested. We are following up next week from connections permitting. But that actually wasn't so much the point for this the photo I simply *had* to take today...what was I doing at 6.12am today? Sitting in studio 400 at 612ABC speaking with Spencer...end of blog! Not really. It was just one of those serendipitous moments, and I hope to capture more over the next 12 months or so. (Spencer, by the way, does not have his eyes closed; blame the photographer not the photographee.)

Smell the roses: 6.12pm
I left the building not long after to attend a meeting at Taringa, only to find myself back at South Bank later in the day with a request to comment on ABCNews24. Apparently the fact I hadn't ever seen 'Love Actually' was a national news story! Who knew? No, not really, it was about the Japanese election, actually...I suppose a 'love actually' all my own. Live, national TV: a first, tad nerve-racking experience for me. What was left but to come home and smell the roses...which is exactly what I did, wandered in my garden (a rare opportunity) and looked at what Mother Nature had worked on this week. It's a rose, actually. 

And that is such a corny, overused pun. Nonetheless, I think such was the twitter-pressure, I will see the movie--before next Christmas. 

Queensland politics continues its 'I don't really believe that' themes of late. The current issue is about fluoride in the water; like daylight savings, it is something Queenslanders do seek to do differently...Slipper/Brough/Ashby fallout continues; I'd like to sit the key pollies down and have a serious chat with them. And today the test series against Sri Lanka commenced in Hobart. I'm going to miss my first Boxing Day test in many years. That's an annual tradition on hold, actually.

The other side of the desk.
About 6.12ish.

I will be back here tomorrow, but can I top today? Thanks Spencer and everyone at the ABC

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Day 8: Pictures won't always tell the story

Day 8: Today might prove to be the most mundane of days, if pictures tell a story. Someone asked did I consciously set-up the 6.12 time shot. No, not at all. Sometimes I've found myself doing something quite interesting at another time and think, 'Hmm wish I'd been doing that at 6.12'; no, to the extent possible, whatever the photo shows, that's what I'm doing there and then (or the 6.12 equivalent in another time zone).

No secrets, no skills: the emoticons at 6.12am
In fact, in between these photos, good things also happened including catching up with Brisbane-based colleagues and a little more support for ABC612's Kids in Care campaign. 

Patterns are developing with the 6.12am shot: mostly I'm at home doing the usual sorts of breakfast things people do. One thing I do contribute to the twitterverse is 'today's emoticon', something I have written about here. That is what I found myself 'deciding' at 6.12am. As I've noted, there's no grand secret, they're on my Japanese keypad, or created from the punctuation marks on the keyboard. They can be whimsical or a little serious, a comment on the day, or just anything really. Generally they start a lovely whimsical dialogue.  It's a nice thing to do. 
A bus: 6.12pm

In the evening, I found myself on a bus and a little self-conscious about taking a photo in such a public place...a bus, in the suburbs of Brisbane. But that is what I was doing. 

ABC612 Caring for Kids
about 5.12pm (6.12pm in Sydney)
I was actually on the way home from the local shopping centre where ABC612 presenters were appearing to help cap off a wonderful promotion of asking listeners to contribute a gift for kids in foster care. It's been a privilege to have the opportunity to take part and it just captures the strengths of our ABC in our community. Steve Austin, Mornings presenter, not on twitter (yet) appeared at Garden City. 

To illustrate the promise of twitter, I tweeted this photo of him at work, wrapping the gifts. Good one Steve, and well done Brisbane!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day 7: A double symmetry (of sorts)

Day 7: 12/12/12, the sort of day that people like me who like these number patterns (I watch the car odometer too, not that you need to know that) like to watch unfold. I was up working at the am version of 12mins and 12secs past 12 midnight this morning, 12/12/12. I was aware of it leading up to the moment, appropriate tweet poised, then got carried away with what I was doing, and noticed again, 12 mins after the least I got in a tweet about missing 12/12/12 12.12.12 by 12 mins...

Oz analysis of the latest Newspoll 6.12am
So its not surprising that today's 6.12am/pm snaps share a symmetry of their own. At 6.12am, I was reading yesterday's paper over breakfast. That's not surprising. It's usually the time I get to catch up. Why do I read yesterday's papers today...habit. That is all. When the opinion polls are printed, dissected, commented upon, I usually take some notice, ponder and consider my own analysis. Occasionally I'm asked to comment on the radio, it helps to be prepared. So that's what I was reviewing this morning, over my trusty cup of Cafe Parliament. 

Higher ed, yep. 6.12pm
Sometimes, however, I get to read today's paper today, and so it was at 6.12pm. Wednesday is a key news day for academics. The national broadsheet carries a few extra pages about goings on in the sector, news and views, jobs, events, brickbats and bouquets. The higher ed sector is multi-layered; when it is good, it is very, very good and when it is bad...well, you know the rest. Some days it is harder to remain optimistic about its future directions. Most days I'm pleased to be in the 'twilight' end of the career path. Today's front page features tended to remind us of the place of women academics (diminishing on the research front in the larger 'sandstone' places); ways in which universities play the numbers game to gain research 'cred', and boast about it; and colleagues at a nearby regional university look set to sign their enterprise bargaining agreement. Good luck to them, ours took three years last time (and I know I have that ahead of me). No wonder tweeps announce 'wine time' on twitter...

In other news, North Korea fired off its satellite/ballistic missile object, triggering the usual alarm and condemnation. I'll reserve judgement, I have a chapter on that coming out in a book soon (ah, yes, my diminishing value as a female academic/researcher).  On the Australian politics front, more on the Slipper/Ashby case, with the case being thrown out of court today. Oh the tawdriness sometimes of our polity...despair might be a natural reaction, but I try to cultivate positive engagement and response... we do get the politics we deserve but we can do something about it. A mostly fine and sunny day today weatherwise with a pleasant breeze to keep us honest. 

So, for the 6.12 at either end of the 12/12/12 day, I found myself in a double symmetry of sorts. I kind of anticipated I might learn I'm a creature of habit through this exercise, I didn't quite expect to confirm it by day 7. Cheers.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Day 6: A meeting, and a test...

Day 6: One of those mornings when the light through the window means dawn begins around 4.00am and so it was today. Although sunrise wasn't until 4.46, it was still that awkward time when trying get more sleep would have meant sleeping in. Always a problem when it is a busy day ahead. Today was one of those days. I am a staff-elected member of my University's Council, and that meant being prepared for the meeting due in the evening. 
Meeting notes over breakfast 6.12am

So, 6.12am today saw me going over my notes over breakfast to make sure I'd read and understood the documents, had questions and queries prepared and was in a position to engage in the dialogue which occurs at these meetings. I also knew there were going to be several other meetings with students and colleagues and administration on.

 Today also presented me with the first 'test' of the '6.12' mantra...what if I can't take the photo at 6.12? I figured it was going to happen at some point which is why I've gone with the main plus supplementary photo am/pm approach (not boring 1 and boring 2 as someone suggested...); surely I can score one actual 6.12 photo a day...

The Council meeting commenced at 5.00pm and I knew it was highly unlikely I'd manage even a surreptitious 6.12pm photo...what to do? The next relevant time I found myself back in the office by 8.12pm, which I figure is 6.12pm Perth time, so problem solved. If I can't get the 6.12 local time exactly, I'll capture me at 6.12 somewhere in the world. This is the internet after all, so time is relative, or something. Well, that's my justification for tonight anyway. A little creative license is permitted, no? 

The office: 6.12pm (Perth time)
The Japanese election is now just days away, polls are pointing to the Liberal Democrats gaining the highest proportion of votes, but that's just 26% at this stage; about 16% of survey respondents plan to vote for the incumbent DPJ while about one-third of voters simply don't support any of the parties on offer. Voting is not compulsory, so we could be in for an interesting ride. 

Locally, we are experiencing that odd mix of rain and bushfires with not quite enough of the former to extinguish the latter. Summer in Queensland...the Queensland Premier is now claiming there will be no further job cuts (a contentious issue through the year) and a day after commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Redfern Speech, Brisbane City Council moved in to remove the sovereign tent embassy in Musgrave Park. Ah, Brisbane, testing times all round. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 5: Food and seeding ideas

Day 5: Woke to some rain this morning, that's always nice. It also meant working at home so that I could make sure I got to an appointment on time in Brisbane, always a gamble when work is a 75 minute drive away. Anyway, it also meant that the routine changes, a little. 

Monday night is usually rehearsal night (I play in a community orchestra) but we've moved to summer recess. So I could make dinner for a change which is what I found myself doing at 6.12pm. Rather ordinary really. Just a quick pasta and vege dish. It means I can get back to work. 

About to be dinner, 6.12pm
This morning, however, I found myself having to explain myself to my neighbour. Why was I taking a photo of the bird feeder...? I have lovely neighbours actually, and we catch ourselves chatting over the fence regularly and sharing ideas about the birds' seed preferences, and gardening hints. We share the lorikeets and pale-headed rosellas that live in the neighbourhood. Lately, we've been visited upon by crows, bit of a topic. 

I always feel fortunate that I have the neighbours I do, we keep an eye out for each other, contrary to the reported social trends. She also listens to 612ABC so gets the 6.12am/pm thing, luckily.

The news today continued to feature the fallout of the prank phone call to London, and it seems everyone has an opinion. 

The lorikeets' eye-view
Today we also took time to reflect on the 20th Anniversary of the Redfern Speech, then Prime Minister Paul Keating's speech to seek to reconcile white Australia with our first peoples (written by Don Watson; I'm a former speech's an occupational thing). 

I'm also spending much of my time preparing for the Japanese election. There will be much to understand and analyse next week...

And I've had to give some thought to when the '6.12' photo should be taken--I'm due to land in Tokyo at 6.10, Tokyo may be difficult to get that one; is it about '6.12' local time--or what would be '6.12' Brisbane time wherever I for thought. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Day 4: 'Sentaku'

Day 4: I'm beginning to get the hang of this gig now. Quite conscious of what I'm doing each day, and conscious that I live a rather ordinary academic's life...
'Sentaku' approximates a few words in Japanese. One is 選択 for 'choice' and another is   洗濯 for 'laundry', today's 6.12 moments shared aspects of these two words. 

Reading the election data on 6.12pm
When Saturday is 'play day', then Sunday is household chores and back to work. That's the sort of day it's been. One of the things about being an academic is that the lines between research, interests and nerdiness are sometimes terribly blurred. So it was at 6.12pm today I noticed that I was examining the election data on the Asahi Shimbun (Asahi newspaper) website. It is psephologist heaven and there is so much detail, I can find myself getting carried away for hours; problematic when I'm supposed to be writing a commentary piece on the election. The night is still young. 

I'm particularly interested in the area where I stay when I go to Tokyo, Itabashi-ku, the area I've been most closely associated with since I first went to Japan, 29 years ago this month...the last time there was a December election!

The candidate whose data I'm reading here is Shimomura Hakubun and he's been there for as long as I can remember; I suspect if I go back through my photos over the years, I'll have a collection of his posters there as well. He was a young gun back then, he's now 58...age, like sand through the hourglass...hmm. 

This ordinary sentaku:
washing at 6.12am. 
The other point of interest today is that I saw coalition backbenchers in Australia have been asked to refrain from using twitter during the election campaign next year, lest they say something they ought not. Similarly, in Japan, candidates are not supposed to be using twitter, the internet or media advertising during the campaign and yet several candidates are challenging this position. 

A warmish summer's day here in Brisbane with news of fires on North Stradbroke Island and when I last looked on twitter, we were all caught up trying to identify a snake Spencer Howson found in his pool...carpet snake it seems. It's been that sort of day. 

So, 'sentaku'...the Japanese people have their choices coming up next Sunday, election day. I had my 'sentaku' to do today, the laundry, and no doubt, I'll be doing that again next Sunday too. 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Day 3: A typical Saturday

Day three: Saturday, a day I do like to steer clear of work, unless there is something pressing to be done (although there invariably is). Some years ago, an esteemed senior colleague advised that we all need a 'play day' in our line of work, a day off to enjoy time to ourselves. My Saturdays are usually thus. A day to read the newspapers or, as I do every second Saturday, rehearse with my clarinet choir. Today was the end-of-year 'public' rehearsal and feast. We have a couple more gigs to round out the year (carols) but then it's rest the clari until next year.

My fave spot, reading and listening to the radio. 6.12pm
I don't sleep in on Saturdays. I get up at the usual time and usually do the same sort of Monday to Friday things. By the  time the afternoon arrives, I'm generally in a mood to sleep, or read. Today's feature is the 6.12pm photo in one of my favourite spots in the the lounge room where I line up all my 'must-read' books with the radio or music going on in the background. Saturday is usually ABC Classic FM, after RN Saturday mornings. I get myself around the network.

News-wise today, I've kept an eye on developments in the Japanese election naturally. Yesterday's earthquake has disrupted campaigning briefly, and those still living in temporary housing were unnerved further. I hope to get along to observe some of the protests.

Locally, the dominant news story is the fallout from the commercial FM station 'prank' call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient. We awoke to the sad news of the death of the nurse who took the call. Discussion all day has focussed on the call, the callers, the ethics vs the law. I guess we need to think through the consequences of our actions, no excuses.
6.12am: watering the bonsai,
a present from mum 12 months ago.
Miraculous that it has survived this long. 

Brisbane has had another warmish, muggy day at times today; the lorikeets remain fit and noisy, the possums are emerging from their tree box; cicadas and crickets are buzzing away with that sunset sound and the jasmine wafts through the house. I'm off to a play this evening, one written and performed by some Brisbane residents, originally from Africa. After reading, participating in the performing arts is how I like to spend my time on my Saturdays, my 'play day'.

Addendum to yesterday: I qualified as a workplace health and safety representative. I have a commitment to ensuring a healthy and safe workplace, including a workplace free of bullying and harassment.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Day 2: Coffee and weekend reading

Day two: Stepping out on this new venture, makes one a real clock watcher, but that's OK, that's kinda the point. Normally at 6.12am I'm onto my second cuppa over breakfast and listening to ABC radio current affairs program, AM. I can be pretending to read the newspaper but I'm often on twitter as well. The cup is a favourite, one I've had since my days working in the Senate. It's a lovely time of the day. 

Morning radio, morning coffee
But never fear, this project isn't going to be just about my morning coffee. It will be a record of some key news events of the day as well. 

Today was the day that the service was held for Daniel Morcombe, abducted on 7 December 2003. It has dominated the news today. Daniel was a student at the school next door to my University campus at Sippy Downs; there was a bit of a sombre feel about the place, knowing what was going on next door. But people wore red and there was a serenity too. It was an overcast and rainy day, the first all week. 

Just as I arrived home, a rather large earthquake struck northeast Japan. I'm headed there for the election in a couple of weeks. I've experienced earthquakes before, they are a constant part of life in Tokyo but everyone's a bit sensitive since 3.11, Fukushima. 

What to read tomorrow?
On the politics front, there was a COAG meeting today and what did we hear about? Queensland was at odds with the other states about the succession plans re the Royal Family. Ah Queensland...if we 'can do' it differently, we will... 

I was still at work today at 6.12pm, listening to ABC Radio's current affairs program PM, and thinking about my weekend reading. I seem to be that creature of habit already...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Day 1: At 6.12am

Day one: today I begin the quest, to participate in the project 365, photo a day blog. What started as a plan to document my day at the same time each day has become a challenge to capture the moment at twelve past six each day. Yes, 6.12. Does that have anything to do with a certain radio station in Brisbane? Why yes. And today, being 612 Day, that is, 6 December, the quest begins today. To start us off: 
Today, at 6.12am on 612ABC on 6/12.

612ABC Breakfast host Spencer Howson really enjoys talking numbers, especially dates. Naturally 6 December scores highly on the list for ABC listeners in Brisbane. 

Spencer challenged us all to take a photo at 6.12am on 612ABC on 6/12 for #612day. 

At 6.12pm, still listening to 612ABC
The photo to the left was my effort and gets this project 365 off the ground. 

For good measure, I was at my desk at 6.12pm today too. So I took that photo. Sometimes, I'll take the shot at 6.12am, sometimes at 6.12pm. Am I a creature of habit, as I suspect; or is there a bit more to my day? We shall see in 365 days.