Thursday, 28 February 2013

Day 84: Just another day at the office

Day 84 (27 Feb) Realised just now that indeed, today, it is day three of the new semester, and the daily rhythms are quickly establishing themselves. Well, sort of. There are so many times in a day when you'd really like to have about four clones to just get through the day. 

Interestingly, today's two 6.12 moments actually suggest a calm and continuity that belie the pace and demands of the day. Indeed, I may have to rethink the project lest you get the impression my life is about coffee and the office...oh, wait. 

At 6.12am, breakfast and yesterday's news today as well as following up on some information-gathering I'd been doing. And before people judge me, I read both broadsheets for work purposes. I do have to get back into early departure habits again now with classes on. It also means longer days in the office. 

The photographer in me in noticing not-so-subtle changes in lighting, not just here but from southern tweeps too whose former sunrises are turning into moonrises.

So at 6.12pm I was in the office, but the next few months of Wednesdays should see me in a tute each Wednesday will I manage that? 

In between these two photos, I had to navigate a broken down photocopier,  four student enquiries which each took some time and for whom the outcome might be quite significant for each of them, a further meeting to discuss a draft of a submission about my teaching team, meet with two colleagues separately over workplace matters, review some 'review' material, timetabling, further enquiries on separate matters on behalf of another colleague, oh, and then there's the teaching, later in the day. 

You've been here before, at 6.12pm
Each matter is important, each matter needs its time. Each matter needs another day. 

The Queensland Government sailed close to the wind again today in flirting with convention by making a policy announcement in front of a fee-paying party crowd. The announcement was about's policy, it's not an election campaign, these announcements should be made publicly free of inherent privilege. These people must realise one day. 

And cricket can be an amazing thing. As I drove into the tunnel tonight, Victoria required 5 runs from 9 balls in the one-day final. Done and dusted one might think. By the time we were through the tunnel...Queensland had won. How'd they do that? Go Queensland. 

Oh, and then there was Clive...the Titanic, it's official: he's building it ('cos he think they ill come?).

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Day 83: The rain...doth continue.

Day 83 (26 Feb) The rain continues and whereas yesterday was on the buses, today is back up the highway. Early in the morning is always the guessing game over whether or not the roads will be closed, or the University. With a 75-minute commute, one doesn't want to reach the front gate only to find the place closed. 

A little contemplation, at 6.12am
Not surprising then that it was one of my garden statues that caught my eye this morning at 6.12am. It just sits there on the verandah and offers some calm each day. Week 1 is always hectic for its 'newness' and  many things needing to be done. Tonight is also a council meeting at work so the day will be long. 

Introductory lectures today on the Sippy Downs campus, Japanese lectures today...the first years stepping out to take on the challenge and second year students coming back for more. It's a bit of a shift in years from first to second--I have the interesting job of offering equal parts encouragement and gentle but firm cajoling.  It is a shame that students who undertake study of a foreign language don't receive more acknowledgement for their efforts. 

Once upon a time, a second (or third) language was the norm and although the teaching techniques from those days might be scorned these days, at least people had insight into another way of thinking. These days, students do a 'cost-benefit' analysis of the time it takes versus grade gained. Sometimes language loses. Those students who persevere however, reap immeasurable benefits. 

Meeting, at 6.12pm
Much of the day is also taken up by administration which one realises must be done but sometimes the over-bureaucratisation simply belies logic. Oh, my teaching team is also putting together a proposal for spare time at all really. 

The evening is taken up by a meeting. It runs for about two hours. I am a staff representative and it is extra on top of my regular day. I was there at 6.12pm.

It means I will have work to do before I return home later, about 9.00pm. It's a long day. Still, it's been a good day, an important one that, like yesterday, matters for the new students. 

The rain looks set to continue. I shall go and build an ark. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Day 82: Promise

Day 82 (25 Feb) New semester, new campus. Not a great day to be travelling but at least public transport to the city is preferable to driving in a car up the Bruce Highway. Well mostly, except for the bit where Translink's machine stopped working so I was fined for not touching off a machine I couldn't touch off, on, as it were. The rain depressions continue to hang around, and this one is particularly persistent. It has again prevented me from attending rehearsal. 

News, views and coffee again, at 6.12am
At 6.12am then, it was all about reading over the news, finding material that might be useful in the class. Coffee of course, and the newspaper and a bit of background radio current affairs. I do actually find the first lecture perhaps the most important in the course. It's the one time you have to convince students to keep coming to class over the next three months. Yet, many skip it thinking it doesn't matter and they turn up subsequently hoping they hadn't missed 'important'. We grizzle, but smile and continue anyway. They miss all the good jokes in the first lecture, I don't tell any after that. 

Anyway, a reasonable turnout considering the weather and an engaged group of students. Our South Bank experience is going to be a good one I think. 

With a new campus, there are new IT networks to discover, operate, log on...can I say, it all seemed to work. The old, pre-tech teacher in me spent much of the morning making back-up, hard copies of all I was supposed to throw up electronically on a screen. Good, old-fashioned handouts. Luckily!

All good, despite the rain, at 6.12pm
The technology that was in the room last Friday (checked) was not there today was revert to the old ways. I think the day worked. The students were great, engaged. Good going since they'd had classes from earlier in the day. We had some laughs, we asked some challenging questions...we started asking ourselves about how we form our 'politics', our political views. It is three hours, a small group and we can be fairly relaxed about the format. We will all just be glad when the rain stops. 

At 6.12pm
So when I got home I was pleased to see this budding rose and the frangipanis outside. It's a tad cliched but really, over the next three months, we'll witness some real blossoming in classes and I, for one, can't wait to see that. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Day 81: Teaching Politics: it can no longer be shades of gr#^...

Day 81 (24 Feb) And it is officially a 'school' night. Classes start properly tomorrow at South Bank Monday and Sippy Downs the rest of the week. I'm looking forward to it. But before that begins...
The bonsai, in the rain,
at 6.12am

Today I am set to travel to the Gold Coast with new iDevices in hand to introduce my mother and one of my brothers to the delights, conveniences and occasional frustrations of the same. So it was up and at it early. Actually, it was pouring with rain when I got up and went out to check if I needed to water the bonsai. It wasn't until I got the blog up tonight that I realised I was doing the same at 6.12am yesterday. 

Well, makes me a creature of habit then I guess...

B & W and shades of ... *clouds*. 
I was also impressed by the overflowing gutters with the rain feeling like it was settling in for the day. Not the sort of weather I like to drive in. But I was looking a bit closer at the rain too, and hopefully this second pic, a little after 6.12am has caught it, in an abstract way. (I was going to call it 'shades of gr#^', but you can't use that phrase anymore without conjuring up one hundred parodies of a certain book. I'm going to find it hard to talk about politics, if I can't talk about shades of...)

So made it to the coast, mum took to the device as easily as I thought she would and far more easily than she thought she's gone well. My brother got his up and running too, so all was good. 

The bonsai, at 6.12pm
Lunch at a Mexican restaurant with mum followed and I headed home. The rain held off and I was back just in time to get out on the verandah to check for rain or other weather effects. I had the opportunity to do a 'photographer's pair' so yes, just as I did a few weeks ago, I took the bonsai from a similar angle as this morning. So here we are, twelve hours apart...can you see a difference on this overcast day? I dare say I can see, just, just a hint of difference in the light.

As I turn my attention to tomorrow's class, I'm still pondering my politics introduction...neither black nor white but shades of...shades of...I have to go away and think. 

News today that Australia's first female speaker of the House of Representatives (1986-1989), Joan Child, passed away yesterday. She was 91. Vale Ms Child and thank you for your place in our political history. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Day 80: Saturday, play day; it's not always all about Kevin.

Day 80 (23 Feb) Today I did something I haven't done in a long time, I bought the local News Ltd paper, the Courier Mail. I bought it primarily for the article and commentary on the latest Galaxy opinion poll results. It's all about Kevin. I'm interested in it all because I live in the former PM's electorate. In fact, I've lived here longer than he's been the candidate trying to win the seat (1996). 

Autumnal tones, at 6.12am
I'm a little bit intrigued by opinion polls--their frequency, the importance they are given over and above the substance contained within. Just how quickly the numbers can so dramatically change the state of our polity. It got me thinking about interesting thoughts about participating in opinion polls--who does and doesn't, who should and shouldn't. It was a bit of a thought bubble I tossed out to twitter and had some really engaging exchanges. But more of that elsewhere, soon. I'll touch on it a little more over at the other blog tomorrow. 

And before heading to the newsagent at 6.12am, it was checking the bonsai...its autumnal phase is beginning with the browning leaves (as least, I hope that is what it is). 

A bit of Brisbane, from the South Bank side. 

Today I planned to turn my attention to the first play of the new Queensland Theatre Company season, The Pitch and The China Incident. Two separate plays, one actor each. I generally like these sort of plays, I appreciate the skill and challenges of the actor to hold the floor for about 60 mins with no colleagues to bounce off when they skip or forget a line. Anyway, the plays were quite good and the second one, The China Incident, particularly resonated strongly with me as an International Relations academic with a speciality in Northeast Asian relations. Just one thing though QTC: the 'five-party talks' are actually six-party talks, but that's just a little of my propensity for historically accurate specificities. 

It was a lovely day for taking in some of the loveliness that can be South Bank. After purchasing a few extra accoutrements for my mother's iPad leap, I had a chance to just sit and watch the river, the movement, the colour. It's a lovely spot. I also observed the 'Soft Serve Whippy Challenge' going on within Greensleeves-hearing distance from me...two whippy vans, head to head and there could only be one winner...Kudos to Richard Dinnen (@Rdonair) for his naming rights for the inevitable reality TV show: 'Soft Serve, Hard Sell'.

Post the theatre there was time for a bit of a stroll down the Bank and back. Interesting signs which intrigued my friend who thought it warranted inclusion in the blog (although it was only 6.01, eleven minutes too early). But the clouds offered an interesting scenario above. So, here it is, because I'm happy to meet requests. 

At 612 (and the rest of the ABC), at 6.12pm
But the stroll back meant we reached, yep, you guessed it...the ABC building at South Bank, at 6.12pm. A few shots of the Wheel of Brisbane as well, but in a blog that is homage to the twelvepastsix concept, well, it just had to be...

We also got back from the stroll and taking of refreshments (did I not mention that?) to find that a bus had crashed into a West End restaurant. Some injuries it seems. Quite a shock, West End is just down the road from South Bank. The weather also managed to play a few tricks: the forecast rain didn't eventuate but we're finishing on an unusually sultry night..just in time for the overheating of the here-to-September daily opinion poll results and 'commentary'.

Let's leave it go, it's time to play. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Day 79: New kids on the block

Day 79 (22 Feb) Early start today, not because I had the usual long drive ahead but rather, today is the day my university, USC, begins its venture at South Bank Institute of Technology, in Brisbane. Back on familiar city territory. 

So today is the orientation: for the staff from USC teaching on the new campus, and the students who will, from next Monday, be USC students on a South Bank campus. It's nice to leave a bit later, catch the bus to work, spend time in the city. I confess, I do miss it. 

I'll be teaching an Introduction to Australian Politics to students taking a Justice and Legal Studies degree. It's a required course. Sometimes, teaching a subject that people don't particularly like, when they have no choice but to take it, is quite a challenge. Yet, getting people, especially students, interested in our political system, how and why they should care about it, is for me really very important. If the interest and engagement start early then hopefully our polity will be healthier. It matters. 

Getting them interested,
at 6.12am
At 6.12am I was packing my bag with a copy of the textbook and, my trusty constitution (now available as an app). As a Japanese politics specialist, I came to teach Australian politics a little bit by accident.  When I went to study in Japan first time around, I found I had to keep answering questions about the Australian political system. I actually didn't know that much. We studied a Japanese translation of an Australian text by David Solomon. I decided when I returned that I would broaden my political interests. 

I've since worked in the Australian Senate for a Senator and I've worked in DFAT. I'm involved with my union and I sit on committees at work. Everyday is politics. One of my research projects is comparing the political cultures of Japan and Australia.

I live and breathe politics, love it. 

Too early at 3.12pm,
for beer o'clock. 
We had our orientation just prior to meeting the students. We too, were the 'new kids on the block' after all. We needed to look at the rooms, orient ourselves on campus find the coffee shops and so on. The students were great. I'm looking forward to to it. 

After the intro and meeting I took the opportunity with some colleagues to go and visit a new 'learning space' (as they are now called), over at the QUT Gardens Point campus. It was a total technological advance. Fabulous. On the way over, we took shelter from the rain. I had the change to *imagine* what a beer from this deck might look like:--> 

Tea, at 6.12pm
We continued over to the campus thereafter, and then on to a major city department store. This weekend is where my mother joins the eyepad world. 

By the evening, and the 6.12pm shot, I was seated with a colleague enjoying a cup of tea. There is a specialist tea shop in Brisbane and it is as important for tea drinkers as it is for coffee drinkers and their habits. 

It will be a lot of fun next week. I'll be dropping in on my other blog for the course 'Psephy's ~ologies'. 

See you there...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Day 78: Work intensification, on a knife's edge.

Day 78 (21 Feb) Each morning is beginning to get that cooler feeling about it, a little harder to spring up and at it, particularly within five hours of getting to sleep. Still, until next week when classes start, one can appreciate a last little 'sleep-in' before the compulsory starts begin. It will be mostly about getting onto campus early enough to get a car park...growing pains at the university. 

Clear sky, at 6.12am
With everything on the boil in the kitchen, at 6.12am I was out the back feeding the loris, this time with some leftover fruit as well as their seeds. I didn't realise until I viewed the photo that it appears to be on a knife's edge. Metaphorical I suppose--the politics, the new semester, the calm before the storm. Tomorrow is orientation at a new campus with new students. It will be interesting, but more of that tomorrow. 

Back on the main campus however and it was again trying to finalise much work before the new semester begins. It is still orientation week so there are still new students around and taking the 'brave step' in some cases to knock on our doors. They want to ask advice, chat about courses, think about their future plans. It's always interesting. 

Twitter coffee
with @marygarden
Today as well I got to catch up with one of our postgrad students, a fellow tweep Mary @marygarden. A cyclist and tweeter, she came to campus to attend a function so naturally we took the chance to chat about her work. Like all good tweepsters then, we tweeted about it...with a quick pic to go with it of course. We're serious tweeps. I attended Mary's confirmation seminar last year, she presented her work on political blogs, I suggested she ought to get on twitter...and's good for a chuckle between us. ---->>

A short break and back to work (I believe Mary went for a ride...follow (#ff)  her to follow the lycra crowd). 

There was a union meeting planned for 1.00pm so technically I had about two hours to get on with some work. I don't know what happened but the time went quickly and then it was meeting time. 

One of the issues which comes up constantly now in the University sector is the work intensification. The increase in administrative tasks which must be completed in a day is beginning to break people and often one has to query the value of that work. It is happening to both academic and administrative staff. On our return trip home tonight my colleague and I were talking about how these tasks have taken away the time we need to think and mentally prepare and focus on our first lectures for the year next week. 

Stereotypical bananas, at 6.12pm
We are both determined to try and set aside some 'thinking' time this semester. I fear that probably means a desert island. I need to minimise these administrative demands. I fear the demands will only increase. I'm not sure it means we are giving of our very best sometimes. 

So, not surprisingly, at 6.12pm it is another view of the office. That's a week of work days now with me in the office...the next 50-day assessment is going to be pretty easy. 

I was at least thinking about the reading and discussion for the first tute in a week or so. This semester I teach a course about Japan. In some ways, in observing Japan we can see what happened some years ago there unfolding here in Australia, especially in workplace relations and education. For a while there was an expression karoshi, literally death by overwork. It's a phenomenon we need to ensure doesn't embed itself here. Sometimes the stereotypes we apply to others might be a lot closer to home than we care to realise. 

Other societies, other cultures, it's opening up for the new students. As my colleague said tonight, the lecture theatre may well become our place of refuge from the administrative chaos outside. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Day 77: A bookish day.

Day 77 (20 Feb) The rain seems to have stayed away. That's good for O Weeks (no relation) all over the place as the new students come along to learn about uni. Today at work it is my Faculty's turn to speak to the students taking our classes so that means a couple of sessions of meeting students directly. 

I cover two areas of student studies: politics and Japanese. It's often about walking a range of students through a mix of encouragement and some preliminary detail about how the courses work...what can they expect when they walk in the door next week. Occasionally I'll see the same students in both sessions but mostly the politics/Japanese double is a bit of a mystery to most. Today I whipped out my slide of the Japanese fellow Watanabe and briefly told them his story--a nice mix of Japanese and politics. 

Working away, at 6.12am
But preparing for the day started with actually catching up with yesterday's post, since I got home post midnight last night. So it is a little self-referential again, over breakfast, as I worked away on the blog. So at 6.12am, working away, I took a look outside. 

Along the way though, I happened to notice that I had attained a magical number of 612 was a little after 6.12am but I was also listening to 612ABC at the time, so I thought it was worth a capture (and a tweet of course). 

And every book matters,
at 6.12pm
I think I have just about completed a full week's set of 'in the office' shots. I also think I have just about exhausted  all possible angles from inside the office. The one tonight at 6.12pm  saw me on the phone again but I turned to the my rather full bookshelf. This is the first bookshelf most visitors to my office see, and they think I have a lot of books...until they turn and look at the shelves on the wall to their right. There is an order, I know where specific books are but let's face it, it is a bit full. Still, the books are my tools of trade and I've been accumulating them over a thirty year period. Can't apologise for them; but it will be one heck of a move when that happens. 

When I think back to my O Week at Griffith University 32 years ago, I didn't imagine then that I would accumulate a bookshelf full of books. I do remember being intensely curious and more than eager to embark on my university studies--nothing else mattered then. I hope some students who started this week will equally find themselves in their preferred job and ever grateful for their uni studies in 2045, 32 years from now. It's been mostly quite great. 

Day 76: Early tweeters and dark tunnels

Day 76 (19 Feb) Nature has hit the replay button today. The rain continues with seemingly no end. The day started early, about 3am in fact, as I got up to finish off some work. The twitterverse is alive with other like-minded early starters so really, with twitter one is never alone. Much of the twitter-chatter is amongst the 612ers...staff and listeners. Interesting world really. 

Early tweeters, just before 6.12am
When it rains at my place, the loris take cover on the deck. I think I've mentioned the 'lorikeet rain gauge' previously whereupon the number of loris perched on the deck is in inverse proportion to the amount of rain that will fall during the day. As soon as day broke, the loris were perched--sure sign of much rain. Just before 6.00am these three were perched and shuffling amongst each other. Not quite 6.12 but a shot nonetheless. It's also a bit of a homage to fellow #project365er Susan Hetherington (@snoozen) who captured a marvellous pic of a lori in flight. We discussed the question of how many birds pics are too many. Cathy (@Chasseur06) and I determined the answer was too many are never enough. 
Yesterday's news today,
at 6.12am

A quick shot on the phone but worth it I reckon. 

Luckily there was the variation on the usual theme. The morning started at the table with a bit of work and coffee. Looks like yesterday? Something about creature of habit? And at 6.12am, catching up on yesterday's paper.  

A rainy day all day. Orientation activities at work, meeting the new students, dealing with the usual administrative tasks. Notwithstanding the 3am start, I was still in the office at 6.12pm and, like yesterday, I happened to be speaking with a colleague (a different one this time), who left just as the clock ticked over. So while the 6.12 moments today looked remarkably similar to yesterday the times in between did offer a little variety from the usual, sort of. 

The major political news of the day, however, perfectly-timed for Week 1 of an introduction to politics, the Greens declared that their 'alliance' with the minority Labor Government was effectively over, save for key confidence motions and supply. (*And that was one of those odd moments where I just typed exactly what was being said on the radio news, spooky.)  This is going to make the remainder of the government's term in the lead up to the September election most interesting. 

A view in the office, at 6.12pm.
'No. 76 in a series'
The other major news of the day was that surprise surprise, here in Brisbane the second road tunnel, the AirportLink has gone into receivership. This follows the Clem7 tunnel down the...same dark tunnel...? I do use the tunnels, mostly in the morning and yes, there is little traffic in them. Sometimes at night, around 9.00 or 10.00 pm, I can be the only car in the tunnel. 

I think the toll is too high. I could potentially use them twice a day at a cost of $16+ dollars; add that to rising petrol costs and its just a bit too much. Make it cheaper? Is the high toll simply impatience on the part of the investors. Growing up in Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, built in the 1930s, for years cost just 20 cents. It was eventually paid off, though its purpose, to cross the harbour was obviously more important than trying to dodge traffic by going under the river here in Brisbane. Try $2.00. I reckon more than twice the number of cars would use them, and the money would come in. 

Anyway,  I'm paying money to a company in receivership to use a tunnel. A bit of a metaphor for life I think. As I posed the question today: So if one drives through tunnels that are in voluntary administration, is one *really* driving through them? What will actually become of them. 

You can't exactly pack up your tunnel and take it home now can you? 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Day 75: We need to talk about 'time'

Day 75 (18 Feb) Wake to news of yet another severe weather feature bearing down on the east coast. That's unfortunate because O Week starts this week and that means many good plans will have to be revised. It is also a bit tricky I imagine to try and get a sense of a new place when everything is wet and you see it from the inner edge of an umbrella. 

The coffee motif, at 6.12am
It is also not my favourite weather for driving. But that must happen.  But in a couple or three hours after rising early to work...yes, on that piece of self-effusive, contrived, faux-congratulatory citation that has dominated the past few days, I was at the computer. I'm returning to it shortly because work today, oddly enough, got in the way of getting it done. So at 6.12am I'd actually been at the computer for almost two hours. This is not healthy but it is a 'behind-the-scenes' look at what politically-convenient socially-accountable academics do. We're up at 4.00am to get some work done before the day begins. However, that is to digress and reflect another sort of day today. 

Now, I play in a community orchestra and rehearsal is on Monday nights. So far this year, rehearsal has been cancelled because of rain, or a limited section rehearsal was called. I haven't been required at every one, but nor have I made it to any this year so far. Very frustrating. In fact, at 6.12pm I was still in my office. Next week will be different, though, I'm sure. I'll be teaching in Brisbane, finished by 5.00 so I should have no more disruptions. 

Can I turn back time? at 6.12pm
So in keeping with varying the 'office with a view' 6.12pm moment, I took yet another angle from inside the cave. In fact, I was speaking with a colleague, explained my 6.12 obsession and took a photo at the appropriate time. Now, you might notice the clock on the wall...I hadn't realised until I took the photo that it is actually the clock that set me off on this 'time' quest. It is 6.12pm, but the clock says 3.44. (Honestly, I was actually at a welcome for new students at 3.44pm today, not in the office.) 

The clock stopped 13 months ago. I never quite got around to replacing the battery and in the meantime, I became interested in people's reactions to the time and what 'clocks' tell us about, well, us. People glance at clocks and watches a lot. In my office alone, I have the one on my wall, one on my wrist, one on my computer, one on my phone and one on my tablet device. Five. Should it matter if one doesn't work? When people remarked that the clock had stopped, I said yes, but it tells the time correctly twice a day...people would be in my office in the morning, look at the clock and suddenly think it was 3.44pm (even I have not been in my office at 3.44am) until sense kicked in. Almost everyone's initial reaction was to think it was 3.44, regardless of what they must have known otherwise. It's become a bit of a talking point. The other interesting reaction is when someone comes in about 3.44 (the actual 3.44), stays for several minutes and prepares to leave...time stood still, briefly.

Time: too much, not enough, always the wrong time, sometimes the right time; need more, need less; always governing our every move. 

This stopped clock got me thinking about time and how we react to it...indeed it got me thinking about the theme for this blog...the tricky part was then deciding which time to capture. 

You've no idea how close this blog came to being called 'fortyfourpastthree'...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Day 74: Deception: the good, the bad and the lying

Day 74 (17 Feb) ...or, my life as a fake. I seem to have spent too much of the weekend trying to think about a draft of a teaching citation I have to write. It's all too much, and rather unnecessary gloss on academic endeavour. Still, it must be done.

Starting early, at 6.12am
Thus at 6.12am I came out to face the insipid screen of blankness again. Essentially, I don't write about myself in glowing terms terribly well and although it's a team thing and I can write deservingly of the great team I work with, it's still awkward writing. Anyway, much to do before the rest of the day gets underway with the usual washing, breakfast etc. 

I shall be back, urban green
Later it is a stroll through South Bank to check out where I'll be working one day a week from this semester. My university is sharing facilities with the SB Institute of Technology and I'll be teaching politics there. Though I've passed the buildings many times on the bus, I've not walked through them before today. I can see I'll be back with my proper camera...there is much to photograph. 

I was on the way to the afternoon's performance of 'Driving Miss Daisy'. Yes I saw the movie years ago and yes, I was going along mainly to see Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones, just because... A third actor Boyd Gaines (Miss Daisy's son) has barely received a mention and yet has a tremendous role on stage. 

I'm glad I saw it and yes, it was everything people has said and who wouldn't want to watch to icons of performance there in front of you.  I dozed off for a bit though, well, listened intently with my eyes slightly flickering. 

S'pose I was guilty of thinking too much about work and one of the books I'm reading at the moment, and indeed at 6.12pm, John Mearsheimer's Why Leaders Lie (2012). Mearsheimer is probably one of the leading 'realists' in my discipline of International Relations. I'm not an advocate of the realist paradigm, but I do read into it. The pretext of the book is interesting enough: do international leaders lie (about reasons for going to war, for example) and if so why. I'm still early in the book but the fine-lining between deception and lying outlined early on in the book makes me feel this is going to be some read. 

Book of the moment, at 6.12pm
'Lying is obviously a form of deception, but not all deception is lying. There are two other kinds of deception: concealment and spinning. Unlike lying, neither involves making a false statement or telling a story with a false bottom line. Concealment and spinning, however, are not the same as telling the truth'. All that at p. 9. 

So much there to think about as I had to write a citation I barely believe (though I'm not lying, being deceptive or spinning...well, maybe spinning--it's encouraged); we watch the saga of the latest opinion polls fall out on a Sunday night; and I watched two 80+ actors superbly deceive us over 90 minutes as they portrayed two people's lives from 1948 to the 1970s...that is clever and deliberate deception in a way. 

Day 73: Not as clouded as it might have been

Day 73 (16 Feb) It's Saturday and rehearsal morning. Regular clarinet rehearsal that is. We do that every second Saturday. It's a good group, the core of which has been playing together for about 13 years. It's a clarinet choir, yep, 25 clarinets of all shapes and sizes in the one room. But it works. 

Sometimes I do feel running off to band rehearsal is a bit of a luxury I can't afford, particularly when it comes to the weekend when so many other activities will have my attention. Still, I encourage my students to embrace their leisure time seriously, I should follow suit. 

To cloud over, or not to cloud over,
at 6.12am
The morning started off somewhat cloudy, the promise of more showers. At 6.12am I was up and about deliberating whether or not I should do the laundry today or tomorrow. Clouds but a touch of clouded over somewhat later so the decision to put off washing, and play clarinets, was the right one. There are many other pressing things to do the weekend before classes commence and sometimes it seems the clouds are permanently overhead. 

The horridness that can be modern technology too means that emails are immediately to hand and I'm never quite sure what to do when colleagues send emails at 6am...on a Saturday. To answer, or not? I answered. Not what I wanted to do. 

Rehearsal done, back home, lunch and on with work. Saturday is generally accompanied by ABC Classic FM so news is fairly scarce. I am, however, quite conscious moving around my electorate of Griffith that the election is in the offing. The two key candidates are making their respective presences felt and noticed. Yes, one of them is a recent prime minister...the year is going to be interesting. 

The evening was the first subscription concert for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. I've been a mostly loyal subscriber for the best part of the last two decades, save a brief period of uncertainty after the merger...but that's a story for another day. 

Clouded and incomplete, at 6.12pm
I do go with a friend and we meet friends, other subscribers, there. It's always pleasant for having turned up, even though those moments of indecision prior to leaving play on the 'guilt' of not working. The guilt of not working clouds an academic's day, and night, constantly. I called by my friend's place to head into town and at 6.12pm had just arrived at their place. I was still looking at the clouds, they were quite fascinating this afternoon. (Clouds actually make for great photographic subjects/objects.) There is a shell of a house across the road that seems to have been being 'transformed' for the last three years or makes for a poignant foreground to a cloudy moment, in the sky, in life. 

Artfully cloud-like, at QPAC
The concert was quite good, the Beethoven piano concerto 'Emperor' and a Bruckner Symphony no 4. For the first time in 100 years or so of attending concerts, I left the tickets at home...clouded thinking. Luckily, as a subscriber, I could sort it out at the box office. Sheesh, embarrassment. Still, for the first  time in 100 years of attending concerts, the soloist from the first half, Anton Kuerti, joined the audience in the balcony seats to take in the second half. How lovely, and he was greeted with polite but appreciative applause. Heh, sometimes the clouds part. The ceiling of the concert hall presented its own version of 'look up' tonight too...

It was just one of those 'head in the clouds days' today, in all the manifestations that might mean. It's not always a bad thing. 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Day 72: Pineapples: the guaranteed rough end up here

Day 72 (15 Feb) Today was another day at the office, early start, late finish. Last day before Orientation Week and classes start. Not much to do you might imagine except the usual office work which I was doing until... 

The many colours of lunch,
at 6.12am
Started as usual and by 6.12am I was up to making lunch. I do make the effort each day to make and take something to lunch for work. My lunch gets tedious, same old same old, but one gets rather tired of paying for the same old same old at the refec at work, so I make my own. Currently, it's salads. I suppose the colour is interesting. 

Although there were good intentions to leave the office at a reasonable time I was still there at 6.12pm. As promised in an earlier post, I've decided to offer a few variations on the usual theme. These shelves are to my left. It has also been raining on the SunCoast all day.  It occurred to me to look out the window to see what was happening with the weather. When we say we sometimes feel chained to our desk and imprisoned, well, here are two views which just might encapsulate that. 

I had also decided to try and clear out some old papers, amazing what clutters one's office after ten years. An hour or so, and I made a dent in the piles but there's a bit to go yet...

The office, at 6.12pm 
But one reason I was back a little later than anticipated was another day in Queensland politics...ah you know the Queensland cliche, beautiful one day, chaos the next...but it was happening on two fronts. 

One is the watch on my local member Kevin Rudd-- #ruddmentum, #ruddbunker #ruddrudd--will he or won't he challenge the prime minister; it's getting tiresome but something is happening. I'm watching closely so I can write and contribute a post from 'inside Griffith', it's going to be an interesting contest. 

The other major political news here today though was the resignation from the Queensland Cabinet of Arts Minister Ros Bates. Now we've all been on #RosWatch for a while with a series of stumbles (literally and figuratively) in her time in Cabinet. Finally it became too much and she has resigned. That was early in the day. 

Rained out, at 6.12pm
Mid-afternoon, it was announced that the stood-aside Director-General of Transport and party operative Michael Caltabiano was to be dismissed, as of 15 March...having been stood down in the interim on $10,000 a week. As many were saying, nice work if you can get it. 

Now some of these things are subject to ethics committees, the CMC or courts. There will be much to come out. I have for a while wanted to write the Liberal Party story in Queensland...I think that time is coming. 

So, I need not worry about things to talk about next week when the classes much grist for the mill, so rough is the end of our pineapple...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Day 71: My (un)funny Valentine

My funny valentine, at 6.12pm
Day 71 (14 Feb) The anniversary of Australia's conversion to decimal currency. Oh, OK, and Valentine's Day, if you must. I sort of forgot, until now so yes, no cheesy valentine 6.12 moments for me today. Because, curmudgeonly. It wasn't always thus, but there you go. 

I suppose living in Japan for a number of years has curtailed the joy. On 14 February Japanese women are expected to buy chocolate for all the blokes around, bosses,  partners, boyfriends, husbands etc, etc. Some of this chocolate was called 'giri choco', obligation chocolate. Then, a month later, 14 March, the men can, if they wish, return the favour to obligation, no giri. Pfft.

Still life with coffee,
at 6.12am
Anyway, that's Valentine's. I'm much more grateful for decimal currency.

None of which I was thinking about this morning at 6.12am. Once again, catching up on yesterday's paper over breakfast. But actually, at that moment each day at present, I'm becoming a little intrigued by the light...this photo is a bit like yesterday's as far as the light goes. There is a certain sort of 'Still life with coffee' feel about this, except it is never a still life at 6.12 in the morning. 

My colleague and I are taking full advantage of leaving a bit later than normally required in a teaching semester though it is amazing the difference leaving 30 minutes later can make to the traffic on the road. It adds a further 20 mins to the trip sometimes. Still, next week, it all changes. 

From the other side, at 6.12pm
Typically, the day's plans were partially fulfilled, ever-surprising and new stuff emerging. It never feels the same, but maybe it is. I have become conscious the last few days that my days are so full I'm actually not keeping track of the day's issues. That is in spite of twitter or news websites up and running all day. I must pay more attention. 

At 6.12pm, I was in the office, still, doing some of the work I hadn't completed during the day. I had, however, migrated from behind the desk to my table where I have other bits of work to do. It gave me the chance to look at the office from the 'other' perspective, the view visitors have when they come into my room and remark on the books. I forget I have quite a few, in fact 30 years of academia have resulted in quite a lot I suppose. Looking at them from the perspective of students who visit, I sort of understand their surprise. I really must...cull, consolidate, tidy up...I keep promising the cleaner that I'll get to it soon. 

Books, perhaps the way to get to my obligation.