Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Day 49: occupational hazard

Day 49 (23 Jan) Is it possible to have an off-switch in this job? It's a question I ask myself from time-to-time. As colleagues return to work and enquire about your 'break', how does one answer that without sounding like some kind of automaton...or perhaps even an automated 'bot'? The trip to Japan chronicled here in earlier posts was less a break and simply shifting the focus of attention. But still, people assume an overseas trip must be a holiday. 

Yesterday's paper, today,
at 6.12am
And so it was today, not a day in my office on campus but a day of work nonetheless. People ask why do I read the newspaper, particularly when it is yesterday's paper today (which is what, yet again, I was doing at 6.12am). Indeed, I've generally kept up with the breaking news during the day via the various sources to hand these days: twitter, news websites, radio streaming etc; when I read the paper I'm generally looking for examples or stories for lectures and tutes; I read the op-ed pieces to engage with debate around ideas or controversies. I read the letters to the editor pages too, they're as useful as talkback for gauging a further dimension of 'public opinion' on issues that I might be able to use in class as a talking point. 

A brief diversion today from desk work when I went to have a chat with Anthony Fensom, a fellow member of the twitterati and contributor to 'The Diplomat', about the recent election and Japanese current affairs. Always enjoy talking about Japanese politics, so is that 'work' as such, sitting in a cafe, over a coffee? 

Current affairs and historical contexts, at 6.12pm
Back home and time is focussed on my forthcoming presentation at the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Qld Chapter. I'm enjoying the challenge of bringing to life the musings of Watanabe Kanjuro as he roamed Queensland 120 years ago. So much of the story is fast becoming relevant in ways I hadn't anticipated. So this evening at 6.12pm I was looking at some of the books I bought in Tokyo, new publications which similarly are reviewing the thinking and politics of the early 20th century in Japan and the lessons we might learn or come to appreciate in the present. 

One more thing I need to do before retiring for the night is to examine the statement on security announced by the Prime Minister today. International security is my area of specialisation academically and I'm interested in the statement and its relevance to the Asia-Pacific region. Whether the Prime Minister's comments were explicit or implicit with regards to the region is for me to consider and write is my job as an educator and commentator to read, listen, think and synthesise the things that make our world tick. It's a full-time job really, wherever and whenever I might need to do so. 

It will keep me busy. I'll look for that 'off-switch' next time around.

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