Monday, 29 April 2013

Day 144: A 6.12am sunrise (sort of)

A reason to be up early
Day 144 (29 Apr) Monday, South Bank day. Buses, not driving. It is also the morning that the sun rises at 6.12am...if I'd been better prepared, I could have gone where the actual sunrise could be seen. Instead, it is the light from my back door at 6.12am. Besides, I was also making coffee at the same time, and those who enjoy their coffee will know that very few things get in the way of a morning coffee...not even a time-themed photo-a-day blog exercise. 

My actual 6.12am

I also had more visitors of the weekend kind, I think the kookas have returned just to have their photos taken. 
And somewhere over
the hill, the sun at 6.12am

A little extra time this morning therefore I could give some thought to adding the Clive Palmer story to today's lecture. One of the things about the subjects I teach is the immediacy of the day-to-day and the challenge to relate that to the textbook content. Mr Palmer, with his party helped us today on two levels: last week we talked about minor parties and independents and the role they play; today we planned to talk a little about the history of our two major parties, the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and their antecedents, including the United Australia Party, Mr Palmer's proposed party. We worked through the requirements to register the party, and the fact he will need to do it by 13 May, if he is going to be registered in time for the 14 September election...thanks Mr Palmer, kind of. 

Sun setting, at 5.12pm
A steamy dinner, at 6.12pm
A South Bank day always means a return home in daylight, though that is fading fast now. Indeed, at 5.12pm, just as I got to my front door, there was a hazy pink hue in the western sky...the little fruit phone camera never quite captures the colours but I also liked the silhouette effect of the plants. At 6.12pm, unusually, I was actually cooking something for dinner, shock, horror...

Tomorrow, we do it all again...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Day 143: [+ alpha]

 Day 143 [+alpha] is a bit of a bonus day. The weather and conditions were just too nice not to share a few pics from the day: from the eight kookas and the loris from this morning, a butterfly (maybe from the earlier chrysalis?); to some shots taken along the waterfront at Manly, Brisbane's bayside. 
Just for a squiz: enjoy. 

And the scenes from the Bayside, where the tide was out:

I really should do this more often...

Day 143: A later start

Some of the kookas
Day 143 (28 Apr) Sunday. A later start though the 6.12 alarm did go off...just to be sure. It is a truly lovely time weather-wise here in Brisbane: blue skies, pleasant temperatures, lots to do. 

Through the window,
at 6.12am
There's just enough light still coming through the window at that time to offer some interesting light and lines. It won't be long before there'll be almost no light, for a few weeks at least. Let's take it in while it lasts...

The kookaburras perched in the old gum tree not long afterwards got me up and at it, and really, the fruit phone was a little inadequate in capturing the eight in the tree...marvellous morning starts. It got me out and about clicking today, and there is a day 143 + alpha post following which captures some of the day: at home and at Manly, where I decided to go for a stroll with camera in hand. 

And the loris came
for breakfast
Shopping, at 6.12pm
There's also some work to do, classes to prepare...the extra hours start in full this week so busy times ahead until the end of the semester. At 6.12pm, I was shopping for a few things. I used to push trolleys around many years ago as a checkout operator...many years ago. Funny how I found myself walking past them, at 6.12pm. 

Day 142: Not a work day but...

Morning, sunshine...
Day 142 (27 Apr) Saturday. Not a rehearsal, play or concert day, unusually so a day planned of some rest and recreation prior to heading back up the coast to accompany a colleague to a work function, although I was opting to tidy up the office and catch up on some work. Even though we travel the Bruce Highway daily, somehow it doesn't seem quite right to travel up there on the weekends, much less to the campus. It helps to travel together. 

Breakfast, at 6.12am
My key task was to work through a pile of papers and research materials and cull, yes, cull and quite fiercely too...ten years of material. I had to purchase some shelving today, to take up (and, being a flatpack, construct); I needed to do some marking; I wanted to get a copy of A Clockwork Orange, since I'm seeing the play in a few weeks...

So, it was breakfast at 6.12am, in the kitchen and just above the kettle and toaster I have a serving bowl hanging on the wall. A gift from a friend a couple of years ago, it is one of those pieces that is too nice to put away in a cupboard. I know where it is all the time too. 

On the Bruce, NB, at 6.12pm
I took a bit of time out to clear some things around the garden and spotted the bromeliad, or it spotted me, such a brilliant yellow at the moment. 

At 6.12pm, we were on the road, on the Bruce, on the way to 'work', on a colleague took the photo, I don't click and drive. 

The office is a little tidier'll see soon enough, given my proclivities to be there at 6.12pm...


Day 141: To work, to see the full moon

Day 141 (26 Apr) Another (unexpected) day at the office, inasmuch as I try to work at home on Fridays, but yet again, the campus called. It was a day of meetings from 10am to 3.30pm...really. 

Briefcase, at 6.12am
It was a little earlier start than usual two because I was picking up and commuting with colleagues. So at 6.12am, I was actually checking my bag and getting ready to leave. Breakfast, plants watered, birds fed and done as I went out the door just after this.

 With the next round of bargaining about to commence at my university, today was a day of meeting with staff to discuss issues of concern. I'm not the first to suggest that there are particular difficulties in the sector in terms of job security, work intensification and future directions. The rich are richly rewarded, the poor soldier on. The community of scholars and scholarship is becoming ever-diluted as we are forced to compete for diminishing resources. It is not the sector I entered many years ago. Still, it was a useful day to talk with colleagues about the things that we can try and restore, we hope. 

Moon rising, at 6.12pm
At the end of the staff meetings, I had a couple of meetings with students but in the meantime I was called by our media people to speak to SunCoast channel 7 which was interested in the latest ventures of Clive Palmer. Mr Palmer had announced his intention to run as a candidate in the forthcoming election. He has announced his party, the (rebirth, again) of the United Australia Party and in the space of the few hours of his interview on ABC on Thursday night he went from not wanting to be prime minister to intending to become PM. 

And a little later
Now TV interviews are somewhat different from radio interviews anyway, and this wasn't my first TV interview by any means, but the first where the cameraman was the interviewer as well as filming, hold the mic, asking the questions. I'm not supposed to look at the camera in these situations but I had to marvel at his multiskilling.

Reward at the end of the day was the moonrise at 6.12pm and the light it cast through the clouds a little while later once I returned home. Full moon today...explains a lot, really. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Day 140: Anzac Day...war and memory

Day 140 (25 Apr) Thursday, Anzac Day. A day away from work, a day for much reflection. 'War and memory' was a recent lecture topic. It is a day of mixed feelings. Given my tendency to advocate for a Kantian world view, I prefer we reflect on Anzac Day as a way to move towards a world without war, a 'perpetual peace'. 

Dawn, Anzac Day
A little later, at 6.12am
Anzac Day begins at dawn. The light begins at my place just before 6.00am and at 6.12am the sun is on its way up. Anzac Day itself has been through a number of changes in my lifetime. At high school each year, the senior students were responsible for putting together an Anzac Day service for the Wednesday school assembly closest to 25 April. There was a concern in the 1970s that Anzac Day as a commemoration was beginning to diminish. The original ANZACs, those who landed on the shores of Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 were succumbing to old age. 

Living in Canberra in 1990, I went along to the 75th anniversary commemoration at the Australian War Memorial. Seeing the original Anzacs struck a chord. They were so young when they went, their faces still showed the pains of war. You hear stories of returned soldiers who refused to participate in the marches over the years, they didn't want to remember the horrors. I remember the way Vietnam Veterans were treated as second class veterans. It was a sad part of our history. The Vietnam War is embedded in popular culture and war and memory has mingled. 

At the going down of the sun
Writing about Anzac Day,
at 6.12pm
As an amateur musician, I have participated in Anzac Day ceremonies in recent times as a member of a marching band or a big band. It is a privilege to play Glenn Miller music on such a day. A greater privilege to see the smiles on the faces of women and men recalling a time long past. 

Much of the day I do spend thinking about the mixed feelings one has on this day. Anzac Day is now commemorated on each 25 April (previously it had been the nearest Monday, thus making it a long weekend). I have friends from Japan who are similarly ambivalent about commemoration of war. The Japanese prime minister has today, again, asserted his rights to attend Yasukuni Shrine to pay respects to Japanese soldiers and yet that action engenders hostility throughout the region. And yet...

I look forward to a time when war is no more and is just (nothing but a) memory. 

Day 139: Education and society--a chicken and egg story?

Day 139 (24 Apr) Wednesday. Another early start to take the lecture, mark 3, at 10.00am.  Hope the students don't mind the change in style. 

First, the loris, at 6.12am
A shell of their former selves
But before then, the loris chime in right on time so at 6.12am I'm off feeding them and also take the opportunity to check those butterfly chrysalises I left just before I went away. Not surprising, the little caterpillars are now beautiful butterflies, somewhere. There was a song we were taught as kids about chrysalises and a few lines play through my head as I check out the chrysalises. 

I've never failed to be in awe of nature, in all its forms. I very nearly did science rather than Japanese, when I was forced to make the choice some 30-odd years ago...I wonder what might have been. 

Somewhere in between lecturing in the morning, consulting with colleagues, taking phone calls, dealing with an exploding email inbox, I notice *the* number attached to the number of tweets that seem to escaped from my fingers over the last little while. I like the '612' but wonder should I be worried about the 25,000 in front of it...? Oh well, a twittery life. 

Too many tweets?
Later in the day, the 4.00pm lecture on Japan, today it is about education and civil society. It serves as a timely reminder about why education matters and we engage in some interesting discussion about the relationship (or not...) between education and society: tradition and culture or institutions and rules? There is much that is both good and is turning out to be a bit of a theme for the week. 
Tute time, at 6.12pm

By 6.12pm, we were moving into the tute presentation and discussion. In this course, I encourage students to develop their own research projects. We've had some good presentations so far and I expect it will continue. It is always interesting when students are given a roving commission to develop a topic that interests them. It is good to give them the opportunity to understand how research comes to be. 

Teaching done, it is back to the office to tie up loose ends before the day's end. Tomorrow is Anzac Day...

Day 138: Lament for times past, times lost, times future (but not here)

A morning palette, just before 6.12am
Day 138 (23 Apr) Tuesday. As noted, begins with day two of the Council Retreat before finishing at 1pm and heading straight back to campus to teach...until 9pm. 

I don't think the tertiary sector has responded terribly well to the changes brought upon it by  different governments over the years. While the changes have suited some (what some of us refer to as the 'reification of mediocrity'), by and large it is not the robust and invigorated sector it could be. However, that is why I have the other blog across the way...the purpose of this one here is not to lament for times past, times lost, times future, not of that type anyway. 

When the morning sky appears so beautifully as it did today though it is hard not to look forward to the day. This one, of the colour in the clouds, was just before 6.12 but is simply a photo for the sake of a photo. It makes getting up early truly worth it. 

The signal and the noise,
at 6.12am
In fact, in the few moments I had over breakfast before heading out the door, I was reflecting on the MPSA conference, thinking about the post I will write over at the other blog. Perhaps the most thought-provoking panel was the one with Nate Silver and Simon Jackman and others who were suggesting opinion polling as we know it might be on the way out. I had coincidentally bought Silver's book recently so I was flicking through that over breakfast at 6.12am. Perhaps the panacea for disturbing ruminations on the state of the tertiary sector, is simply to think more about the sort of things I have in store for the near extended period of writing. 

The retreat runs its course, I feel despair but it just takes the short drive up the road to get back into the groove as it were, and immediately into class mode. Well, there are classes and admin issues to deal with; I still have material to catch up on due to my absence and, as always, a few unexpected things pop up as well. By 5.00pm I'm just about ready to go and take over the tutes and lectures of my colleague who though on leave, continues to remain on campus trying to 'tidy up', I know how hard it can be...

Evening lecture, at 6.12pm
At 6.12pm then, the lecture is under way. It is the same topic as the one I gave on Monday, and there will be a repeat tomorrow morning...three times...there must be something lucky about that. I wonder should I engage the students in this exercise and let them know why I'm taking photos at 6.12, in class...I'll think about it. They probably consider their lecturer eccentric enough without additional material for them to deal with...

There are some things I need to do before I leave after classes finish at 9.00pm but leave I do, eventually, and the day ends around 1.00am. 

Day 137: #612bluesky, more than a passing phase

Day 137 (22 Apr) The day dawns and I consider the magnitude of the next two days...I am a member of my University's Council and it is time for the annual retreat. This is always a bit tricky since it coincides with teaching. My timetable will allow for attendance at much of it but it means covering many miles in between. It was decided that a Council meeting would be held as part of this retreat and that will be at 8.30 Monday morning. That means a dash up the Coast for the meeting and then back to South Bank for the politics class. 

Prep, at 6.12am
At 6.12am then, it is collecting materials and practically running out the door in order to make the meeting. I also need to ensure I have all that is needed to make it back to South Bank as well. For those of us who are bona fide creatures of habit, this is a disruption to the usual breakfast at 6.12. Nonetheless, I make it in time, both to the coast and back to South Bank. 

Today's class is about minor parties and independents in our political system, one in which I can speak directly to my experience working in the Senate for an independent senator. It always enlivens textbook discussion. I share around the last lot of Chicago chocolates. 

Having made it back to South Bank, that also means I can get home while it is still light. Autumn is a great time for the ongoing unofficial #612bluesky project and there is a great pic of the sky with just a hint of the moon. I snap/tweet it because...I can't help myself.

The news, at 6.12pm
I should also be going to orchestra rehearsal but the week ahead is going to be a demanding one with a second day of the retreat tomorrow as well as taking over the remaining classes in the semester for a colleague going on leave. It is an additional six hours of teaching on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I want to be sure I'm sufficiently prepared.  Tuesday is teaching until 9pm, that's after starting the day with an 8.00am meeting. Academics have it easy though, apparently.

Catching up on the political news is what I'm doing at 6.12pm. And thinking about what sort of contribution I can make tomorrow in a meeting when the burdens of the tertiary sector have just about reached breaking point. 

One feels somewhat helpless ...

Day 136: First position...a story to take up challenges

Day 136 (21 Apr) Sunday, washing day, catch up day, mowing day...but all rewarded with a movie later...probably. 

Early start, at 6.12am
More washing than usual so I'm actually up at 6.12am putting on the washing and other mundane household tasks that haven't been done. But at least it looks like a fine day ahead. I also need to prepare for the week ahead since the usual flow is interrupted by a two day Council retreat which will see my schedule thrown completely. A quick trip up the Coast in the morning means I will lose my usual time in at South Bank for preparation. 

There have been developments in the Boston Marathon bombing as well, two brothers, migrants from Russia have been identified as the bombers. Again, as an international security specialist, it is inevitable that I am drawn to how this is unfolding. It is a sort of distraction from my tasks, but it is work I guess. 

Mowing, it has its rewards,
at 6.12pm
We opt for a change in the usual scheduling. A movie to see is on at midday so it's a quick dash to the other side of town. First Position is a documentary following the fortunes of several youngsters aiming to compete at an American ballet competition where the prizes include contracts and scholarships for careers in dance. It is fairly typical of the genre but one always marvels at the dedication of young people to aim for and achieve their goals. Probably why I'm in education...

It's back then to the preparation and then, just before darkness falls, my favourite household job...mowing the lawn. Completed just-in-time for the 6.12pm reward...

Day 135: A day at mum's

Day 135 (20 Apr) Saturday, clarinet day. To be honest, I'd probably take today as a rest day but it is my section's turn to provide the morning tea. The clarinet choir has about 25-30 members and, like a voice choir, we are split into 'sections' playing the first, second, third, fourth and bass parts. I'm a bassist. There is also a friendly competitive nature about the morning teas too so it would be wrong to miss it. Besides, it is one of my favourite things. 

Light and shade, at 6.12am
And it is not that I'm tired, or jetlagged, let's face it, there hasn't been time for that but at 6.12am I am viewing the world from the pillow. But again, from a photographic point of view, I quite like the play of light and dark and the lines across the window. It is taking longer to light up each morning. 

I've also decided to head down the coast to catch up with my mum (and come bearing gifts from the trip). I didn't quite manage to catch up before I went away and that never feels quite right. 

Mum's place, at 6.12pm
We had a lovely lunch then popped down the road to test out the newish car. At 6.12pm I was in mum's lounge room, just before I was due to leave. Mum's house is rich with the family history and over the stairwell we have photos of my maternal grandmother's generation. My grandmother as a baby, her parents on their wedding day, a collection of photos of great uncles and aunts and cousins to the left of that. Helps to reflect on who we are...

It's then home, more writing, more reading and ready to face another day of class preparation tomorrow. 

Day 134: Just when you thought it was safe to rest...

Day 134 (19 Apr) Friday, which would normally be an opportunity to work in home, but in fact today I will be heading north again to make a presentation with a colleague. 

Dawn, at 6.12am
Desert rose
At 6.12am it's out on the verandah to check on the neglected plants. The desert rose sits under the bonsai most days but its shape and the time of day make for an interesting silhouette. The light at this time of day is also a challenge to capture on the fruit phone though a challenge I enjoy. The result never looks quite the same as the light in real life. 

My colleague Rika and I are due at the Kawana Library to make a presentation on Japan for a community group. These activities we undertake in addition to our regular university work. It is part of our job too, in a way. It is an interesting diversion and the members of the audience are curious and engaging. We round it out with an early lunch shared with the group--Japanese take-away of course. 

Back on campus, the extra unanticipated day, affords me the opportunity to continue to catch up on work which mounted up during my absence. There is reporting to do on the conference, marking, preparation of next week's classes and time to consider the next conference abstract which is due on 30 April. 
Caboolture, at 6.12pm

It is however, beer and pizza night and although I'm up north, I shall endeavour to get back at a reasonable time. At it happens, at 6.12pm, I am passing through the Caboolture service stop, appropriate since I usually stop there most nights on my way home, simply to take a break. I've learnt it is better to stop and get a coffee (and sometimes it is 'dinner' as well) than press on for the next 50 minutes feeling tired. Really. One too many micro-sleep experiences. This 6.12pm pic though shows just how quickly the darkness sets in this part of the world. 

The pizza was worth the drive. Creature of habit that I have clearly become. 

Day 133: Went faster than 16 April

Day 133 (18 Apr) A long day ahead of assessment and teaching. That is all really. Second-year students are giving their first presentations with a follow-up interview. The assessment starts at 8.00am and continues through until my 6.00pm class which in turn runs for three hours. Chicago? Conference ? Wha? If anything else happened today, I probably didn't get time to notice it...

News, at 6.12am
The office, but a different
angle, at 6.12pm
So 6.12am was catching up a little on local news from the week as well as what news I could glean from other sources. And at 6.12pm, it was a brief pause in the office between commitments before the next class got underway. Found my way home eventually, sometime past midnight.