Sunday, 10 February 2013

Day 67: Some days, research rocks.

Day 67 (10 Feb) Despite best efforts to sleep in, it rarely works when the sun works its way through the window. Still, that's OK. I'm determined to get through some reading, writing and research today (the 3Rs of an academic's life?). 

Reading, at 6.12am
I have a basket of books by the bedside that command my attention. The 'pile' became too unwieldy some time ago, hence the basket. It usually has a combination of books I might use in class (and so I am in the process of reviewing them), books in which I have an intrinsic interest in, and then there are my novels I'm reading at present. I'm never reading just one book at any one time, there are several on the go--multiskilling in a pre-techie age.  So, at 6.12am, it was put the book back and up to get the day started. 

The sun's George Harrison moment,
during breakfast
During breakfast (on the deck, because it wasn't raining), the sun just made an incredible impression in the sky and there was just a magnificent light and warmth to go with it. It was snappable I think. So it is here. 

So much of the day was spent working away on the paper interspersed with household chores and grocery errands. Gotta get out sometimes I suppose. 

Research in the arts and humanities can be a funny thing. Unlike our friends in the natural sciences, sometimes our 'breakthroughs' occur after months of sifting through archives, many pre-digital. Sometimes serendipity steps in and pieces of the puzzle put themselves together. 

It is one of the key reasons I became an academic. I thought quite a bit of the job would involve just that sort of thing. In reality, I do much of my research 'in my spare time' and given my work on Australia-Japan relations doesn't sit within priority frameworks at present, it doesn't receive a lot of institutional support either. It's relegated to 'hobby' status. Nonetheless, I keep doing it, for moments like today. 

I have a presentation to make on Tuesday, on this Japanese fellow I've been working on a little recently; spent three months getting acquainted with conditions in the Northern Territory and Queensland and filed a lengthy 200 page report to the Japanese foreign minister--in 1893-4. Regular readers will be familiar with that story. 

Anyway, I've not yet found an image of him anywhere. Searched in Tokyo recently and although I found some additional biographical information on him, his was one of just a few entries in the dictionary which didn't include a photo. In the midst of reading some newspaper articles--I came across a portrait of him, taken by well-regarded Brisbane photographer, PC Poulsen, based in Queen Street. Crikey! Just one of those moments where you know, some times research just rocks. 

Putting the pieces together,
at 6.12pm in my 612 prize t-shirt...
I'm continuing to work away on the paper, both Tuesday night's presentation and the forthcoming one in Chicago. Thus at 6.12pm with discovery under my belt, I was working away on some more materials. I'm also seeking to wrap Watanabe's story in the Queensland context. Looks like I'll be doing a bit of work on the pronouncements of Samuel Griffith, premier at that time, namesake of my undergraduate university, name of the federal seat in which I live, represented by the man who was once prime minister and who does, himself, exhibits a penchant for Asian Studies. 

Some days, the circle of research does more than rock, it astounds. 

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