Sunday, 31 March 2013

Day 116: Don't stone this common crow...Euploea core

Day 116 (31 Mar) Easter Sunday, I understand, though I may be corrected. The day starts out fine enough but with the promise of storms later. 

The sun rising, at 6.12am
The view at 6.12am suggests we're in for a nice enough day so the washing goes on. Within a short period of time however, the clouds have emerged, it is clothes on the verandah, just in case. There is a little more housework to catch up on and an internal debate about whether or not to go to the bakery...staying housebound wins. Some days, I'm just happy to not make it past the boundary fence. 

A little later in the morning I get to catch up with my neighbours, the best in the world, I reckon. We usually exchange easter gifts and today is no exception. We also like to catch up, which we haven't done of late and we usually compare gardening stories. Our respective gardens are, you might say, ongoing, experimental works in progress...I think my neighbours are winning at the moment. 

Common crow, to be.
One of the things we do enjoy, as I've mentioned recently, is talk of the wildlife in the gardens. It was just at that time we noticed some caterpillars in one of my potted figs. Brilliantly coloured and there were three of them. The movements of two around and around the lip of the pot were fascinating, while the other just kept eating. Discovered later it is the caterpillar of the Euploea core or common crow butterfly, ironic really since we were just remarking on how the crows of the feathered variety had increased in numbers recently. We were a bit pleased anyway, that we might seem some butterflies soon...we shall keep an eye out. 

Back indoors and back to work. A chat with a colleague and it was time to read the papers for a committee meeting first thing on Tuesday. 
A.c.a.d.e.m.i.c. b.o.r.e.d... you might say. I'm looking forward to a little respite from this task soon too, should next year work in my favour. 

Work, at 6.12pm
I end up spending a fair bit of time on the phone today to different people, unusual since I generally manage a reasonably quiet Sunday. After a little bit of a rest (yes, I've rediscovered some languishing Angry Birds updates) it's back to work. I have some other paperwork to do and I'm in the final stages of completing the Chicago paper for now. I think that one might develop into an interesting book. 

So, at 6.12pm, during a rather big storm (which finally arrived) I found myself back at the computer, back online, back doing research. At least there's some choc to while away the working time.  The rain continues. 




Day 115: Seeing things in a slightly different light

Day 115 (30 Mar) Saturday...what I have always known to be Easter Saturday, but apparently that's not quite correct. I have a couple of errands to run but today is about deciding should I work or rest. Rest, probably, there is always tomorrow (and the next day). 

Reading, in a slightly
different light, at 6.12am
It started with trying to catch up on reading...a kind of 'pretend you have a normal life' moment. It never lasts long though. It's a slow way to read a book, at 6.12am on the days I get to 'sleep in' as it were. 

A day to head to town to do some shopping, including my mother's now rather belated birthday present, though she doesn't mind. I'm also one of those last-minute easter buyers as well, so there is that to do. 

Home to ... well, read the papers. Haven't bought two weekend papers in a while and I'm trying to pretend all the work I have to do will just find time to do itself. Rarely turns out to be the case though and so by 6.12pm, surprise, surprise, it's back at the computer thinking and churning out words, which I will spend time crafting later. It's a project that requires the words first and then the work. I could quite easily spend a year writing...not something a coalface lecturer has the luxury of doing these days however. Time for a radical rethink of what to do next year methinks...and that takes up a bit of thinking time too. 
Work, at 6.12pm

We have our bargaining round about to commence at work too where I'll be busy with representing staff about getting an agreement in place for the next three years. It's a lot of responsibility and there is much to think about. The politics always intrigues...someone is always unhappy with the task you take on in a voluntary capacity...

News is coming through too that North Korea is entering a state of war with South Korea. I'm thinking about writing a post on the other blog. I have chapter in my forthcoming book about how we might better deal with North Korea and I'm not liking what I hear coming from the US and indeed, our own foreign minister Bob Carr, who sounds decidedly uncomfortable and heavily scripted in his comments on the radio. I need to get that book finished, quickly. 

The forecast storms haven't eventuated, maybe tomorrow. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Day 114: Good. Friday. Or not.

Day 114 (29 Mar) Good Friday, which is good. I had plans...plans to write, think, read, reflect. The exercise regime of a wannabe academic. However, I barely got out of first gear. 

Last night, as regular readers will know, was the usual late return from work, well, not too late, I was home before 12midnight. Still, with a public holiday to hand I was ready for a bit of a sleep in, though I am always alert and alarmed for the 6.12 photo opportunity, even on holidays. 

A 'reverse Hadfield' at 6.12am
No, a 4am phone call from a relative in the US jolted me out of my relative slumber. There you go, such is life as they say. Nonetheless, although I didn't quite get back to sleep, it allowed me to be up and at it for the marvellous morning sky at 6.12am. There's a fellow floating around the world in the International Space Station, Commander Hadfield and he sends these marvellous, marvellous photos back to we mere mortals on earth. This morning's photo however, was one I'd like o send him...when we're looking up and marvelling at his work, this is what it looks like from our side of the many-layered atmosphere. 

In that questionnaire where they ask 'what would you most like to do if you could?', I generally answer florist, though I don't really know why. Sometimes however, I'd like to be Commander Hadfield, just for the photographic opportunities. 

Yeah, 6.12pm
So, I have to say, running on about three hours sleep, I barely got out of first gear today. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to get the work done I planned to do, I sort of gave in to the day. I did do some reading and thinking, I reckon the writing might come tomorrow. 

At 6.12pm, the computer was up and running, the reading was happening and I was thinking. I was also whiling away a little time on the iPad...it was a good Friday. Cheers. 

Day 113: Fade to autumn

Brisbane, early morn
Day 113 (28 Mar) The Thursday before Good Friday and the mid-semester break. Curious timing. Trying to hold student interest in classes on the eve of a long break is always a challenge. There was another crisp and spectacular start to the day this morning and though I'd been up for a couple of hours by the time this light came through it was worth taking in I thought. 

It was taken about the same time as yesterday's photo and I am just amazed by the differences in the light and colour. Even if I didn't have to be up early for work, I still reckon I'd be an early riser, just for the beginning of the day. 

Fade to autumn, at 6.12am
Found myself at 6.12am watering the bonsai, starting to give a little less water as the leaves begin to fade to autumn...funny how this plant keeps its seasons while others don't. The loris are squawking as well...must attend to them too. 

Inside the classroom,
looking out, at 6.12pm
Thereafter, it is 'hit the road' time, the last for a few days at least. The first year students are giving their first presentations tonight and the group at 6.00pm is a smallish one. Given that the focus of this week is their presentations, we aim to finish a little earlier than usual, which should give us all an extra hour. That will be an extra hour in the office for me and I try to finish up some work. The Chicago trip is drawing closer and there is still a fair bit to do. I eventually leave and head home. The idea of long service leave is seemingly more and more appealing after each late night. 

Tomorrow the break from teaching begins but the work won't rest. 


Day 112: #lifeofalecturer

Sunrise, Brisbane
Day 112 (27 Mar) Wednesday, just another day at the office. Well, it's easy to say that but hard to believe when you see the burst of colour through the clouds so early in the morning. It won't be long before the 6.12am photos find themselves in the dark so I'm going to take advantage of the early morning light while I can. This was just before 6am and the colour was gone as quickly as I could tweet it, I mean, photograph it. 

The weather remains mostly fine but showery. A bit annoying to drive through especially the return journey. 

Breakfast and media,
at 6.12am
Today is also the 'About Japan' course day, looking at the way war and memory play out in contemporary East Asian politics and society. It is a opportunity to deal in some depth with two of my favourite Japan historians in Tessa Morris-Suzuki and John Dower. The work of these two is without peer (except each other perhaps...if we are to take the expression literally) and also an avenue to explore how visual images capture so much of what is 'memory' when it comes to major events. So the morning breakfast time, at 6.12am, is a multi-skilling affair reviewing available media that might provide some further insight to examples I might want to give. 

Today's flow of reading and class preparation is interrupted by a lengthy staff meeting. Two hours. Yes... 

Tute time, at 6.12pm
To the evening's class, and the students in the class are invited to present their own topics of interest in the tutorial program. My intention is that they are given the opportunity think about and design their own research project. In the tutes then, they present their work and tonight is the first one which is what we were doing at 6.12pm. Still early days in the course so the tutes are similarly exploratory in the topic selection. Tonight sat nicely with the lecture presentation on the territorial disputes between Japan and China and Korea. Good timing. 

I spend much more time at the office than is healthy but later in the night is preferable and optimal for getting work done. I'm also considering what to do with a stack of leave that is due. I might just take it. i could get a lot of writing done.

It's a late return but that is, as we say on twitter, the #lifeofalecturer. 


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Day 111: Tweet your 16yo self

Day 111 (26 Mar) Tuesday, and as I type this there is a fun/interesting twitter hashtag trending away in the background...tweet your 16yo old self. Some people are very witty. Some people, among the wit, also offer some sage and serious advice. At 16 I was in my final year of high school, determined to get to university at the end of the year and desperately wanting to play hockey for Australia. I was also dead keen to get to Japan. Well, two out of three etc... I'll turn 50 at the end of the year, sometimes I think my 16 yo self ought to write to the 50 yo me...anyway that's another hashtag. 

Tuesday, a day to head north to Sippy Downs and enjoy the last few 'free' Tuesdays. In a few weeks, a colleague goes on leave and I'll be taking over her teaching: lectures and tutes on Tues to 9pm and repeat the dose at 10am on Wednesday, for about seven weeks. Well, it's a job. 

Colvinius, at 6.12am
At 6.12am, I was reading yesterday's news today...reading about Mark Colvin, ABC journalist and presenter of PM (one of my 'must listen' programs). He's made the news because he has received a kidney transplant. It is good news for him and for many of us who have followed his circumstances for some time. He's a magnificent tweepster as well so no-one is surprised when 'his kidney' becomes a twitter account...it's clever, but I suspect you have to be with the tweepsters to get it. 

Next to that article was a stunning photo of the ocean pool at South Curl Curl, my grandmother's beach and one of three of my childhood: we learnt to love the water at Little Manly, went bodysurfing at Freshwater and swam in the pool and learnt to surf under my grandmother's watchful eye at Curlie. We also played lots of beach football and cricket down on the sand. It's a wonderful part of the world and I'm grateful that my 16yo self as well as my infant to 19yo self got to spend so much time there. 

The trek to work thereafter was uneventful. Traffic was fine, weather not too bad. An awkward week in a way. It is a four day week because we have Easter upon us along with the 'mid-semester' break (about three weeks too early). I'm not sure how many students will turn up as the weekend draws closer. I'm due to continue teaching through until 9pm on Thursday. I guess there won't be an exodus of cars from the SunCoast to Brisbane that night...all the other way. 

If my 16yo self could have known I'd be at a computer, on my desk, linking to Japan and China through a thing called the interwebs, at 6.12pm, I suspect my grandmother might have suspected I'd caught one too many waves and stayed out in the sun a bit too long. But there I was, viewing footage of protests of Japanese and Chinese nationalists over a small group of...barely islands, more islets, in the sea between the two. There's is a dispute over possible resources, and there is also much consternation over a re-emergence of another era of militarism. I hope it doesn't end that way. Perhaps, given my occupation, I just might be able to proffer a glimmer, a different approach. I never imagined that at 16...

Planning lectures, at 6.12pm

Balanced lectures, at 6.12pm

When I was 16, I wish I'd known my grandmother only had another three or four years, there'd have been much to talk about...and many more Manly premierships (and more near misses) to cheer. And I'd let her know that her condition, which I've inherited, has a much better prognosis these days...and I'd swap it all to spend on Saturday arvo with her again on the hill at Brookie Oval. Life at sixteen...wasn't so bad after all. 


Monday, 25 March 2013

Day 110: Intriguing day...


Day 110 (25 Mar) The Easter week and shorter working week crept up on me...at the end of this week is the mid-semester break. It always coincides with the Easter holidays. This year it is quite early in the semester, I'm not really ready for a 'break'. It also means a long 'second-half' of the semester. Nonetheless, it will be time to catch up and prepare for my Chicago conference. 

The boids, at 6.12am
So Monday is South Bank day which means a slightly easier start to the day. Had a bit of time to feed the birds, smell the roses...oh, not the roses, I pruned them yesterday. Still, time to look at the storm damage in the light of day. Not too much thankfully. At 6.12am, it indeed time to feed the lorikeets. I'm still keeping an eye out for the king parrots my neighbour spotted the other day, no luck yet. I know, for most people, a slower start might mean a sleep in...not in this household though. 

Intriguing markings...
One survivor from Sunday's storm was a moth which found its way into the house. Intriguing markings. 

Once I've arrived at the South Bank office and prepared, I like to step out outside before the three hour session starts at 1.00. I have to be careful not to take my big camera on a work day, I reckon I could fill a mega-card with photos without too many problems (and run the risk of not getting back to class in time). Still, it is nice to step out, do a bit of people-watching, pick up the papers before class. Fresh air is always good too. And there is water...which I like. 

Of course, teaching politics is never dull. Last week was all about the prime minister and cabinet...the lecture I mean; turned out to be THE news as well. Today we were due to turn our attention to the institution of parliament and the lecture was timed to start about the time the Prime Minister Julia Gillard was announcing the Cabinet reshuffle...talk about lecturing the live action as it is happening. It adds colour. 

The setting sun, at 6.12pm
My return trip was via the city, to pick up my something for my mother...the department store website said it was open to 7.00, odd, I thought but nonetheless I thought I'd give it a shot. Bad decision: buses were held up for some reason, city was crowded and said department store was closed at 5.35, when I got there, eventually. 

Still, it meant I alighted from the bus at 6.11 and at 6.12pm I was walking home in the fading light thinking how nice it was I didn't have a 100km drive home ahead (and nor did I have to take a photo in the bus). I need to see more sunsets I reckon. 

And so, to our new Cabinet: the tertiary education sector seems to have missed out again. The Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson has had it added to his portfolio, along with Sharon Bird taking on the 'Higher Education and Skills' portfolio...that's a finessing of of a sector I will have to focus on tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, this is day 110/365...I feel like I'm getting there. Thanks for coming along this far with me.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Day 109: It was a dark and stormy...*cliche*

Storm front at 5.55pm
Day 109 (24 March) And yes, my apologies but the storm that has just ripped through here was no cliche. It was a doozie...thunder, lightning, wind, rain and hail in parts. Some places remain blacked out. 


Still reading something
fishy, at 6.12am
Early this morning, at 6.12am, I was reading and listening to the radio and thinking about the writing I need to do. I was also thinking about how 'normal' people spend 'normal' Sundays and just how much I really want to get out in the garden today. I'd like to prepare the rose garden I think. I don't really know if that is what one is supposed to do, but I decided it would be at least a good thing to clear the overgrown grass, prune the branches, clear the deadheads. 

While I was pruning, I remembered how, as a student, I used to head to the squash court to belt out my frustrations and landing on that seemingly never-ending plateau of language-learning; the way in which, no matter how much time you spent on studying, learning, remembering, reciting, writing, recalling...some days it would never sink in. My tutors at the time promised I'd get it eventually. I didn't believe them but I'm glad I stuck with it. The pain was worth it, and now I tell my students--stick with it, you'll get it eventually. They probably don't believe me either. 


The lightning flashed, at 6.12pm
When I garden, be it pruning the roses or trimming branches or mowing the lawn, I spend much of my time thinking about the myriad problems running through my profession at the moment. I'd like to fix it as easily as one can with a pair of secateurs...

Everything feels better after a spot of gardening. Throughout the afternoon we received warnings of a likely thunderstorm but I wasn't too worried. I got back to work, reading and writing and short breaks with the cricket and Angry Birds. 

But the storm hit and what a storm. A fitting end, or beginning, to the week...at 6.12pm, it was at its height and in the darkness of the moment, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared...and we got to watch it all over again.  

What awaits us in this week ahead...?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Day 108: Milestones perhaps

Day 108 (23 Mar) It is Saturday. No plays, no rehearsals, no concerts. That can only mean one thing...off to visit my mum on the Gold Coast. One of my brothers has an interest in buying my current car too so I'm heading down to give him a look at it. Family of car dealer children--we always have interesting car-related conversations. 

Since I was away for it too, I plan to take mum shopping for her birthday present, which we did. Turns out, the particular item she wanted isn't available until tomorrow, Sunday. I tell her I'll go into town tomorrow to get it...she reminds me I can go on Monday, can't I, after class! Mums remember everything. 


Reading, at 6.12am
I wasn't quite up at 6.12am, preferring to read, as I have become accustomed to doing on those mornings I can. Stanley Fish's How to Write a Sentence...I do enjoy a good book about my craft.

Still, I can't sleep in too long. We're tossing up about whether or not to go and see Manly play the Gold Coast at Robina, so rare to see the team. I do have a terrible jinx on my team though, they always lose when I turn up to watch. We decided against it...difficult access, $35 entry, $7.50 beer etc, didn't sound like a great way to lose money and lose the game. 


Thirty-five years
Good thing we didn't go, got to listen on the radio, but the team lost...GC is my second team so not a complete disaster. 

Part of the chat today was about how long mum has been in that particular house. Turns out to be thirty-five years which is a long time these days. I only lived there for just over two years before I moved out to head to Brisbane and university. Yet it remains the 'family home'. I was thinking about all those sorts of things as I looked over the verandah...my brother was washing his car and I noticed just how much the 'palm in the driveway' had grown over that time...it made a stunning pic, perspective-wise. 


Contemplation, at 6.12pm
I left for the return trip, listening to the radio...the cricket, then the football. The temperature seemed to rise late in the day and it hasn't quite settled yet, this evening. (This is verified by similar querying tweets from the Brisbane tweepsters.)

I've been here working away, which is what I was doing at 6.12pm. Reading and thinking about my work, and thinking about those milestones that mark much of our lives.  


Day 107: My dealer called...

Day 107 (22 Mar) At least, after a day like yesterday, I'm not planning to do a run up the Coast today. Still, I'm up and at it since there is still much work to do. I'm presenting a paper in Chicago in a few weeks and that still has some work required. 

I'm also at the point of upgrading my car. I do 45,000km a year on average and there comes a time where the ongoing service costs outweigh the disadvantages of the upgrade. The daughter of a secondhand car dealer though, I can never quite come at buying a brand new car so it depends on the fluctuations and availability of the market. My dealer has called...there's a possible candidate on the lot. 


The bonsai, differently angled, at 6.12am
Before I go to do that however, there are the usual morning chores and I also know that there will be much analysis of the 'tea leaves' following yesterday's leadership events. I have to get the papers. 

Still, at 6.12am, the bonsai needs watering, and the birds need feeding. I can't believe I'm up. I've received a note from my neighbour to say she has seen some King Parrots in the backyard, eating the olives, but King Parrots nonetheless. 

[Well may they appear on this blog some time between now and its demise...]

My neighbour and I share a joy and fascination at the wildlife and the flora we enjoy here in our little pocket of suburban Brisbane. We see some marvellous sights. 


Pizza-waiting, at 6.12pm
Car-testing done, it's time to examine the entrails. So much 'speculation' you wonder what people are thinking. The current state of our political milieu actually triggered my thinking for the paper I'm presenting next month, even though I'm focussing on a Japanese fellow who toured Queensland in 1893.

I work on both Japanese and Australian politics, as you know. I have a fascination with the things we have in common, rather than the differences. A couple of years ago I got to wondering about what might be behind the disengagement, the apathy that seems to characterise our relationships with our respective political classes, here and in Japan. Apathy led to questions about political culture, led to questions about the ideologies that underpinned our nation-building efforts. I'm teasing out the 'coincidence' of this common era in Japan and Australia, in the 1890s. You see, everything is connected. 

But, by 6.12pm, it was end-of-the-day Friday beer and pizza night and it was my turn to pickup, which is where I found myself at 6.12pm, waiting for the pizza. A good way to end a busy week, with friends. Cheers. 



Day 106: Shadows

Day 106 (21 Mar) Some days, when I look back over the 6.12 pics for the day, I wonder at the serendipity of the exercise. At 6.12am I was taken by the shadows cast by my reading glasses...at 6.12pm I was striding across the university 'quadrangle' and noticed the lights capture my shadow. I had actually forgotten the morning photo shadows...and, as the day unfolded, the shadowboxing in Canberra finally came to a head with the ALP leadership challenge called, and fizzle. 


Shadows, at 6.12am
I think today's 6.12am is one of my favourite pics in this series so far. Again, just a fluke, I happened to be clearing the table of breakfast dishes and the alarm went off just at this point. 

Today was also going to be 'one of those days' even before events unfolded in the way they did. I had a five hour meeting scheduled from 10.00 to 3.00 and then six hours of teaching from 3.00 to 9.00pm, the latter being mostly new classes since a colleague had to return to Japan. 

The meeting involves colleagues from Brisbane and is designed to be a planning and strategy meeting for some forthcoming matters. It would be enough for one day, but I'm also conscious that I must also be preparing for six hours of Japanese classes across first and second year levels. Just a typical day really...

Except that, during the meeting, it became apparent that the leadership 'spill' was to be called (you see, for work reasons, I do keep the twitter feed handy to check during breaks). Simon Crean made the call... the meeting finished, I raced off to class where the students were waiting. The Prime Minister announced that Caucus would cast a leadership ballot at 4.30 Canberra time, which was 3.30pm our time...and in the middle of my class. Hmm. It also took the shine of the Prime Minister's apology to those who had been forcibly adopted...to the parents and the babies, now adult children. In politics, it's all about timing...how disappointing.


Shadows, still, at 6.12pm
Most of the students know I also teach and comment on politics so they were pretty understanding (sort of, mostly) when I suggested they do their hiragana worksheet around 3.30... Turned out to be unnecessary, Kevin Rudd didn't stand as a candidate, nor did anyone else, so the 'spill' didn't eventuate. 

It was, for psephologist-types' a monumental event...something to think about. As I noted across at the other blog last week, there was something about Mr Rudd's demeanour at the book launch last week that suggested to me a man who still wants that job but with a still raw wound still showing, one that might indeed ultimately inhibit another go. Is that what happened?

In a big day of teaching and a maelstrom of political events, my mind is racing at 100 miles an hour (apologies for the quaint pre-metric terminology). So much had happened, yet at 6.12pm, there was still much to do. Walking across the university grounds at that time I just sensed my shadow...and wondered about the place of the 'shadow' in politics: there are the famous shadow puppets of Indonesia, in Japan we refer to the 'shadow shogun', the politician pulling strings behind the scene. This shadow however, still had three hours teaching and further work to do after that. I eventually got home, after 15 hours on campus and a 22 hour day from rising at 4.30am to sleeping finally about 2.00am. 

Sometimes, no wonder, I just feel like a shadow of myself. 

Day 105: Showbags and classes...a typical Wednesday mix.

Day 105 (20 Mar) Wednesday, which will finish a bit late. There's always enough admin to do to justify getting on campus early, even though classes won't be finished until after 7pm. Then, there'll be more work to do after that. 

A lecturer's lecturing day tends to be dominated by the so-called LMS--the Learning Management System, known post-ironically at our place as 'Blackboard' (see, geeks know humour too). We all use it differently, but essentially it means that we, the teachers, can post lots of information relevant to the courses onto this system and the students can access it. It adds to our workload and typically it is 'down', or being upgraded or something is happening to hinder access. Sometimes, when you think things are available they're not, and things you don't want made available do appear. #Backintheday as a student, you left the lecture and hoped you had most of the notes you needed, the thought of expecting them from the lecturer was...just not considered. I still tend towards 'old school'. 


Breakfast, and work, at 6.12am
Anyway, the lecturing days always involve reviewing of the media. In the 'About Japan' course, besides looking at 'news from Japan', I also just like to compare what is on a typical Japanese website, with an Australian news website and, when the opportunity arises, compare Japanese and Australian reporting on the same issues. 

And so it was a 6.12am that I was looking over news of the day in case there was anything of interest. Bagels today, just for a change. 

Wednesday at work is also seminar and meeting day, when we squeeze in meetings and go off to hear colleagues present their work on their current research. Today, two colleagues presented their work on showbags, a cultural history and geography. Yep, we were all nostalgic for the showbags of our childhoods, though which show was the best was contentious. Queenslanders always vote for the Ekka, Sydneysiders, the Easter Show (as ours was known). I'm mostly a Queenslander except for two or three things which are part of my birthright: Manly, Freshwater Beach and the Royal Easter Show. Excellent seminar...but back to work. 
In the classroom, at 6.12pm

The white noise we are hearing through the media is the ongoing speculation about a challenge to the Prime Minister's position. Meanwhile, I'm back reviewing further notes for tonight's class. Our tutorial session tonight gives the students the opportunity to present their research topics...we are also talking about the emergence of Japanese Imperialism...I plan to read some selections from a book written in 1936 by a Japanese Lt Commander on 'why we must fight Britain'. The language of the era is always eye-opening. 

This at 6.12pm, the lecture was just complete and following a short break we were about to start the tute. The 6.12pm photo is my view from the front desk, just about to join the students at the tables to discuss their topics. 

I return to my office, deal with emails, a few phone calls, prepare for tomorrow's classes. I leave the office around 9.30 pm. It's another long day's night. 


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Day 104: Speaking of spillage...some pontwitterficating

Avoiding spillage while
pontwitterficating
Day 104 (19 Mar) Tuesday, week 4 in academic calendar time. It is funny how we lose track of 'dates' in the academic semester and identify days in terms of weeks...assignments are due 'Friday, week 6' or 'Monday, week 10'. I'm undecided whether or not that is a good or bad thing. 

All I sense this morning is that the semester is well underway and the week after next is the Easter break and then we're in week 6...and...

A semester at uni these days is a couple of weeks shorter than when I was a student. Turnaround times for assessment have been squeezed through a time machine as well and everything seems to be rushed, constantly. Some subjects are best left in a slow cooker. The ones I teach do take time. I shudder at the thought of teaching a 'summer' subject, the history of Japan in three weeks? Democratic process in ten days? I think I'm tripping into nostalgia. 

Those of us interested in politics, and living in the seat of Griffith, sense the electricity and tension all around. Twitter has been alive to the sound of a spill...does Kevin have the numbers? Will he challenge or be drafted? Will Julia withstand the challenge? I love my politics but please people, can we just stop this, please? Politics is not a popularity contest. There is an election scheduled for 14 September, let's just leave it until then and let the people decide...let's try just a little old-fashioned democracy by the people for the people. 

Feeding the wildlife,
at 6.12am
Not that the lorikeets have an issue with democratic process. At 6.12am they squawked and they did receive. I hadn't delivered for a few days so I think they were pleased. What they leave, the possums pick up later... 

One can never anticipate what will come up in the course of a day  so sometimes one best laid plans, etc. 

Potential spillage in the office, at 6.12pm
I can't quite come at closing the door completely, but sometimes I think I should be brave to get my work done. Is it any wonder I find myself still in the office at 6.12pm and although I didn't realise at the time, this is actually the last time this particular bookshelf looked like this. An hour later, I had configured another bookshelf and transferred some books. It will turn up as a variation on the office theme at some point I expect. 

So most of us will be retiring tonight while somewhere in our politiverse, numbers are probably being tallied. We really don't need this right now. Spillage needs to be minimised. We need to use our time carefully. 


Monday, 18 March 2013

Day 103: Contemplating the politerati

Cloudscape,
on the way home

Day 103 (18 Mar) Monday, South Bank day. There is a different momentum to the day although I get up at the usual time (that's simply a habit). I don't have to be on a bus until about 9am for the trip into town which only takes about 12mins. Such a contrast to 98km and 75 mins by car. (We were also entertained by a very serious 'air-drumming' passenger, a little different.)

Subtle changes in the 6.12am light
So one can take things a little more leisurely, a little less rushed. At 6.12am it was taking in the light of day from the bonsai's perspective. It's a maple-type tree and it follows the four seasons. The leaves are starting to turn and drop off, a micro-imitation of autumn approaching...at least I hope so. (This is the second year I've had it so I'm confident it is supposed to be doing this.) I think we do tend to let work take over and work intesification in the tertiary education sector is quite an issue. I'd like to be just heading down the road for a full day's work and home again before the sun sets. It would be nice to smell the roses, or water the bonsai...

Today's lecture was an interesting one (OK, I think they're all interesting) but today's topic was the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Of course, given the speculation at present, I wasn't sure whether the notes I had would be current during or after the lecture. Talk of the 'spill' is increasing...it makes for terrific, if sometimes anxious, lecture moments. 

At the end of the day, Julia Gillard is still prime minister and while there is some policy discussion of sorts, it is all framed through the prism of leadership. It is a lot of 'white noise'. I sense it is something that is of most interest to the media and the politerati. I think everyone else is tiring of the will s/he, won't s/he between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gilllard. As I mentioned to someone today, we went through this kind of bitter leadership divisiveness with John Howard and Andrew Peacock, but they weren't jostling for the prime ministership, simply the leader of the opposition. There was a more reserved battle between John Howard Peter Costello during the Howard Government. 

Look hard, you can hear the rustle, at 6.12pm
Unusually at 6.12pm I was home, listening to PM on the radio and in front of me was a vase I bought late last year, I was looking into that and listening to the news and contemplating the state of political leadership at that time. 6.12pm crept up on me because I'm just not used to being here on a work day. It is a work by an artist now living on the SunCoast. It's a lovely contemplative piece. If you look hard enough, you can hear the reeds rustling. 

I'm fortunate to do what I do. To be able to be on the frontline of teaching people to engage with our politics, to help them understand, to make people interested is a huge privilege, it is also a responsibility. Yet there are days where even I wonder why our politicians act the way they do. They do themselves no favours and simply cultivate a culture of disengagement. We all need to be involved and interested. We can't just 'contemplate' the politerati, we ought to be the politerati, for our polity is us, and we are our polity. 

It's worth thinking about. 



Sunday, 17 March 2013

Day 102: Washing day and #612bluesky

#612bluesky, Sunday
Day 102 (17 Mar) Sunday, a day where, I recently remarked to a friend, I always have to do three days worth of work in one, especially when I've had two days in Melbourne...and a mega-play day Saturday. 

Nonetheless, today is also the first day in ages for a proper washing day with clothes on the line, in the sun. It's lovely. More loads than usual so it was up and at it early. Since this #project365 is also part photographic exercise, and I have an interest in photographing light (as the dear reader will be aware) it just so happened that I was in the same place at the same time as yesterday's 6.12am. Is there yet a discernible difference in the light at this time of day...a little, I think, if you look hard enough. 
Sunday morning, at 6.12am

I plan to do much writing today. Still mostly tying up some earlier administrative tasks but they will be done soon enough. I'm looking forward to writing the things I want to write, soon. (The next big piece is finishing my Chicago conference paper...the countdown is on.)

There is a lovely sidetrack that comes with the blue skies and sunshine too, and it is another part of the 612 ABC radio community that makes it special. Breakfast presenter @SpencerHowson last year, during the onset of winter, commented on the 'artistic effect' a blue sky can have in photos, especially when you put just a small element of another subject in it. Of course, the 612ers have taken to the task with gusto (as we do) and over the year, under the hashtag #612bluesky, there have been some truly spectacular photos. Have a look for yourself. 

The amateur photographer in me enjoys the challenge and today I managed to capture one. A large fly-like insect on the clothesline, just where I was going to put the sheets. 

Mowing has its rewards,
at 6.12pm
So it was a day of writing and reading mostly, though towards the end of the day came time to mow the lawn, a favourite chore, as I have previously discussed. It means rewards at the end of the day, which is indeed what I found myself doing, having a break before the night's writing began...

Oh, Manly won, 32-0, against the Knights. 



Day 101: Mega-play day, and Kevin...

Day 101 (16 Mar) Today is a mega-play day Saturday. Just occasionally my play and concert commitments coincide and today I have the addition of a morning start with @toddocracy at Riverbend Books...shall I make it to the end?

Mr Rudd, and fan.
So the start of the day was early, breakfast was at 7.30 for 8.00 at the famous Bulimba bookshop, in the heart of Kevin country, the seat of Griffith. With the pseudo-campaign underway, I'm quite interested in watching what goes on here in Griffith between incumbent Rudd and challenger Bill Glasson (see yesterday's furore). Mr Rudd was engaged to launch the latest book of former staffer and man tagged with the moniker 'Labor historian' Troy Bramston. Entitled True Believers, it is a collection of significant Labor prime minister speeches over the years. Mr Rudd's 'Sorry' speech was included so that might have been part of the reason why he was asked to launch it. Funny, I would have thought it more appropriate, if this wasn't political game-playing, to have the incumbent Prime Minister launch the book...but there may be launches elsewhere, which do just that. I shall reserve further comment for the other blog. 

Sun light, at 6.12am
Even when I am due to go out to have breakfast, I tend to have breakfast before I leave the house, just conditioning and the habit of breakfast at, as we know, 6.12am...I noted this morning that the sunrise light is changing subtly and it won't be long before the 6.12am pics will be quite dark. Still, it is a nice touch of colour at this time of day, worth capturing I thought. 

Coming on top of two intensive days in Melbourne, a day with four engagements means one will probably go by the wayside. Today, unfortunately, that meant clarinet rehearsal, if I was going to get to the play, and the concert later that night. 

The play was the current QTC play, End of the Rainbow, a story on the last months of Judy Garland. Magnificent performances by Christen O'Leary, Hayden Spencer and Anthony Standish...and a live band, aways a bonus. Bravo to all concerned. Lovely to bump into ABC producer and musician Scott Spark and his mum in the foyer. 

Sun light, at 6.12pm 
Home briefly, then a turnaround to head back to QPAC to see Piers Lane play Mozart. As I have noted elsewhere, Piers lane is one of those pianists you'd pay to watch tap out a tune on the kitchen table. Another marvellous performance. Shostakovich 7th was the other work on the night. Always enjoy a bit of Shosta. 

I was picking up a friend at her place on the way in and I managed to capture the sun light at 6.12pm. My friend lives in one of those inner-city streets that has so much character and a marvellous view towards the west, where the sun was headed at this time. 

A mega day of sorts, that means of course, that Sunday will be busy with class prep...but there you go, the #lifeofalecturer...