Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hand me a nikko pen

Well look at me...studying again after vowing never ever to do such a thing in my whole entire life. Clearly, I have forgotten the trials and traumas of the PhD because I have enrolled into a Master of Information Technology (Library and Information Sciences) at QUT. I chose it because it offered the degree externally, and was in Queensland. The rest of the unis that offered similar degrees were interstate. It is also an accredited degree which might mean something in the future when I eventually finish it. Until my research fellowship finishes in June 2012 I am only going to take one subject per semester. After that I will get moving. Initially I enrolled myself into one of the two electives that are part of the study plan, but then on second thought, and after trawling around the Blackboard site for that subject and finding NOTHING AT ALL EVEN THOUGH TERM STARTS ON MONDAY, I decided to jump right in to one of the proper core subjects. It has a Blackboard site with some decent content already up for the first two weeks, and acknowledges that not all students are internal, discussing the online component of resources and recording of lectures etc. I have spent this afternoon joyfully doing the Week 1 reading, examining in some detail the assessments and generally poking around the QUT website. As can probably be expected I find it tremendously confusing but think I have found most places where I need to go, except for the library. I will save that for tomorrow I think.

The assessment looks interesting. I'm surprised at how intensely scaffolded the assignments are. Every step is there. We don't do that for our bridging students - well not to the same degree anyway. I'm also thinking about the number of 500 word reflections there are as part of the various assessments. Can I write only 500 words anymore? I hope so. Of course there is a 5000 word report as the final piece so that will keep me busy I imagine. I think I'm going to choose the topic to do with music piracy. Maybe. And the first piece is a poster presentation with marks allocated to its "visual" literacy. I am not an artistic person. I shall have to think of something to do with this. There is the suggestion of a youtube video. I may have to ask more questions about this as a possibility. Either that or I just get a big piece of cardboard and a nikko pen.

Joking... :-)

It's all very exciting.

Friday, February 25, 2011

clutching an ice brick

Why are you clutching that icebrick wrapped in a teatowel to your chest Wendy?

Why indeed....

The morning began rather inauspiciously with me ramming one of those trolley things into the back of my heel while I was attempting to transport a heap of study material into the lecture theatre. Subsequently, my heel has a lump of a bruise on it. It was only afterwards when I was investigating why the damned trolley was so difficult to maneouvre that I discovered the brake on one of the wheels was clicked on.

Then I was unpacking study packs from boxes when I ripped the cuticle on one of my fingers making it bleed and requiring a bandaid. Oh, the glamorous life of an academic.

I thought I had made it through the rest of the day incident free. That was until I arrived home, decided to make coffee in the plunger and thoughtlessly pushed the plunger too hard, creating a kind of coffee fountain that has scalded the palm of my hand.

I started by using the frozen broccoli to cool it down but I didn't want it to defrost. Somehow, there is an ice brick thing in my freezer. I don't know where it came from. I sure as heck didn't put it there, but I am using it now.

You will excuse me if I stop typing.

I have coffee to drink, and some ice to clutch in vain, while I hope my hand stops hurting soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snake at the screen door

Well done Monday! Congratulations! You surpassed all your previous attempts by 7am. Not only did you provide me with a restless, disturbed sub-tropical night's sleep with the prospect of a 34 degree day. I then awoke ridiculously early, bleary-eyed and tired. I thought to myself, I know - I shall start the week off the right foot and do my meditation. I even got out of bed 20 minutes early. As I was quietly sitting in my meditative state my attention was drawn to the fact that the cat was batting at something near the back screen door. "Oh" I thought, "He's playing with a gecko/huntsman spider/baby lizard/ "insert fairly inocuous creature of your own choosing". But Monday, dear Monday, you had other plans. On rising from my meditation, calm and slightly more clear-headed than when I had sat down, I was delighted, nay let us say THRILLED, to find the cat was in fact batting at a snake at the back door. Now I must be clear, it is a baby sized snake, and has just been identified as the carpet variety by my father, but it is a snake nonetheless. Steve Irwin would have been impressed with my lightning fast reflexes as I slammed the glass door shut so said snake was then trapped between the screen and the glass. The cat was less impressed and remains on guard as I write. The snake has not moved for the last 45 minutes. My dear father came around and we bravely opened the screen and kept the glass door shut. He left me with these words of wisdom.

"It'll crawl away during the day but if it does get inside Harry will kill it".

I should probably leave a note for the cleaning lady.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

paper lantern bookcase

I have finally taken down my Christmas fairy lights from the bookcase and replaced them with these paper lanterns. Oh..and that copy of a A Suitable Boy you can see have never managed to finish it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Welcome to university

I am sitting quietly at the computer drinking my morning green tea. This is in preparation for the onslaught of new students that await me when I get to work. Today is our first Orientation Day of the new year. We have 84 new preparatory students starting the program on Feb 28. Before they start classes I do two days of Orientation with them. Today is a lot of talking...about uni, about the program, about themselves, to each other, from me. There is also cake for morning tea, a wander around the campus to make sure they don't get lost and a visit from past students for a chat. Then we finish the day talking about positive thinking, planning and time management and send them on their merry way until next Friday. This year our ages range from 18 up to the mid 70s and our classes are full to bursting. There are lots of nerves and excitement on the first morning. Some students have given up full time work to start uni. Others are leaving families at home for the first time in many years, while some are going to meet more people in one day than they might have in the last year. While I have spent the last week whining about all the administrative, preparation tasks that need to be done to get to today, by the end of it I will have remembered, as usual, why I like my job.
The program I work in is a preparatory program that has a foundation of opportunity, and a belief in the transformative force of education. I have seen this force in action over many years now and it's a privilege to be part of it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

full of beans

I have started a new piano student this year...the younger brother of a delightful girl who I have been teaching since last year. This afternoon as I left work I wasn't particularly enthused for my regular Wednesday piano lessons. I had spent the day, filing, checking class lists, filing, answering the phone and email, and going to meetings. In other words, it had been a less than enlightening day. Quite frankly, I was more ready for a nap than for teaching the piano. But then, in bounced this enthusiastic 8 year old, full of beans, ready to practise his songs for the eisteddfod. Last week we had talked about breathing - where to breathe, how long to hold different words for and other bits and pieces. He had clearly spent the week singing and working on his breathing. And then he couldn't wait to show me how far ahead he had worked through his piano book. He had spent most of last year listening to his big sister play, and with an ability to play by ear we skipped the "baby" stuff in the front of the book and raced through to starting to read the notes around middle C on the staff. Homework last week was Old MacDonald. This week we are all the way up to Yankee Doodle - two hands, treble and bass clef, using all five fingers on both hands. It was an absolutely delightful half hour lesson and reminder of how quickly time passes when you are doing something you enjoy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

no Messiah..just some shopping

So I flew to Brisbane Friday lunchtime and flew back to the Bundaberg this morning. There was a cheap flight sale at the end of last year and it fitted beautifully with the plans the Jinxster and I had made to book for Jesus Christ Superstar by Harvest Rain at QPAC. We stayed with Anne M and had bought her a ticket as well. I was excited because the production looked really good. Sadly, in between our bookings Brisbane flooded and QPAC had to shift the JC Superstar season to June. That left us with our cheap plane tickets so we decided to go anyway. After an hour delay leaving Bundaberg we arrived in Brisbane around 2 on Friday afternoon. The lovely Anne drove us to Portside at Hamilton where shared a yummy vege pizza and then wandered past all the posh shops. One of them was having a big big sale. I bought my sister a white cotton embroidered skirt marked down from about 90 dollars to TEN. Even if it doesn't fit her I didn't care. And then I found a floaty dress for myself that was forty dollars instead of about 120! Then we watched some Ascot/Clayfield rich ladies pay exorbitant amounts for clothing at full price.

Saturday morning we ventured to the south side to Carindale. This is one of the few Westfields in Brisbane that I have never been to. The most striking feature was the carpeted floor. We met a friend of Anne and Jinx's for morning tea at The Shingle Inn. I had green tea and passionfruit cupcake. It's definitely not like the original Shingle Inn that used to be in the city. It was always such a treat going there. Still, it was very acceptable. While they sat and chatted I took myself on a whirlwind tour of the sales. I found myself a string of paper lanterns. It's probably time that I took down my Christmas fairy lights from the bookshelf so I will replace them with the lanterns instead. I also found some bargain cool cotton tops in Tree of Life - 11 dollars each - that I can wear with all my skirts. I also found a great dark green shoulder bag that was only 15 bucks. I am using it already. Then I headed for Sussan's for their summer sale items. I was less than impressed with the manager who seemed to be berating one of the retail assistants in front of the whole shop in a unnecessarily loud voice. Still, I found a long blue swirly skirt (marked down), a new nightie, (marked down), and a new summer dressing gown (also marked down). The last item is the most exciting really. Since 1999 I have been wearing a summer dressing gown that I also bought as Sussan's and haven't found a better one since. It's lasted remarkably well and seen me through many years. I will keep it but try this new one. I also bought my mother some soap from Crabtree and Evelyn as she has been on cat duty...and my father, who adores kitchen gadgets is getting his very own jarkey.

Saturday afternoon Anne and I had planned to go to Chermside as I am nearly out of my T2 Green Vanilla tea. I only get to buy it in Brisbane. Unfortunately, she had to pick her mother up from the airport after she had been in Sydney for two weeks. When they got to her house they discovered the power had tripped some days ago and two huge fridges and a double freezer were filled with rotting food. So Anne got to spend the afternoon cleaning them out and I had a little nap. I don't know what I am going to do in the next week or two when my tea runs out. I have a cup every morning and it's the highlight of breakfast time. Saturday night, my good brother came over and we went for dinner at a yummy Thai place on Racecourse Road, followed by some gelati. Dear Kate, his wife, couldn't make it as she had worked all day and had a big headache. She had to work again today.

This morning our flight left at 8:50. Qantas check-in was madness. Luckily for us we had done our online check in the night before. However there was some last minute drama when at 8:20, after Anne had dropped us off, I looked in my bag and discovered I hadn't picked up my phone and charger from the bedroom. So Anne, wonder that she is, drove back to the airport again and I met her out the front and grabbed my phone. Luckily she only lives about 5-10 minutes from airport. Phew, that was close. How would I have survived without my phone?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dear Keef

Dear Keef

I feel I should write and explain my inability to finish your autobiography. I began it with high hopes. I had recently finished Paul Kelly's wonderful memoir and thought that perhaps your book would extend my reading into a roll of musical non-fiction. Unfortunately, while the early parts of the book were very interesting in the tales of your young life, I found myself bogged down and bored in the endlessly intricate tales of drug taking high jinks. I thought I might be able to power on through so I could read about how Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean is based on you, but in the end I simply couldn't be bothered, so I just flicked through to glossy pictures. Please don't misunderstand though, I was struck by your musicality and fine geetar playing in Martin Scorsese's documentary (and that's a compliment because I am, in essence, a "Beatles" person), and I am constantly impressed by the fact that you are still alive, growing old disgracefully in the very best of ways. I just don't want to finish your book.

No hard feelings I'm sure


Laden with books

Yesterday morning I went to our local book sale and in the above photo you can see the results of my restrained purchasing. For instance I didn't even look at the fiction tables. Instead I confined my browsing to non-fiction, and a feeble attempt to get to the dvd/cd table where buyers were intent on not letting anyone get anywhere near the offerings. I did manage the reach in and grab a copy of Spellbound from under their noses. Other than that I spent about 15 dollars and picked up two books on grammar - one old, one new - Hazel Rowley's biography of Christina Stead (in hardcover), a biography of Lewis Carroll, the major works of Swift, something called The Bronte Myth, A Roland Barthes reader, the Collected poems of Garcia Lorca and something called The Faber book of Pop which looked chock full of fascinating essays. I also found a huge book of piano music that I already own, but it was sitting all lonely on the random junk table for only 6 dollars so I had to buy that too. Sadly, I had not adequately prepared for secondhand book buying so at that point I had to stop as I couldn't physically carry anything else. Next time I shall take some bags for today my arms are hurting.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We did indeed remove our coats

I can't quite believe it's two Sundays since the Tasmanian holiday ended. The beautiful weather on the final morning made it all the more difficult to fly back to soggy, humid old Queensland. Out of the 300 photos I took during the ten days I have whittled it down to these few to share here at The Spiralling Shape:

Here's me...looking windswept and interesting (with apologies to Billy Connolly) against a background of the clear waters of Abel's Bay.

The sun shone brightly with all its might through the tall trees. We did indeed remove our coats.

I came over all arty with the camera angle, but just look at that shining water.

Here's my lil sis waiting to feed the local duck...Mr Curly. He is highly attuned to the rustle of a plastic bread packet.

I love this tree. It reminds me of someone standing on one leg.

And that my friends, as another famous Tasmanian says "is your blooming lot". The many photos of bushwalks, markets, mountains, barbeques in the freezing cold and folk festivals shall remain on my computer for now.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It's official. As of yesterday morning at around this time I have joined the ranks of the deactivated. Shock, horror, gasp. I's a wild and crazy move to leave Facebook but my dissatisfaction with it has been building for some time and yesterday morning I pulled the pin.

Have I missed it in the last 24 hours? Good question. The answer is...only in the sense that it had become an addictive part of my morning internet routine. Example:

First login to my computer used to go something like this....Read the National News, Read the local news (both through ABC sites), check lolcats (absolutely essential), login to Facebook, click "Most Recent" instead of the annoyingly non-chronological "Top News", read what happened overnight, a few posts of links, some status updates, oh look someone has posted 200 photos, well I'm not wasting my downloads looking at them all, try to think of something witty for a status update, usually fail, quietly despair at the new layout, logout. Then I would move to twitter which is far more interesting, quick to read and usually very informative about all manner of things - news, world events, where the best coffee is in various cities, how much people love bacon etc. These are all things I am interested in too. Finally I would do a quick zip into youtube, ebay, and my work email, before continuing on with my morning.

Now I am the first to admit I was not the perfect Facebook user. I too annoyed my friends with pictures of lolcats, youtube videos and many many photos....but lately I had lost interest even in doing that. It was soon after I went to see The Social Network. Are these two happenings connected? Maybe, maybe not. It did prompt me to examine exactly what I was getting out of Facebook, as well as what Facebook was getting out of me. I read a few articles about privacy. I spent lots of time fiddling around with my privacy settings, dividing friends into lists, making sure my posts were appropriate, worrying that the privacy settings were a great big FB scam and weren't actually working, meaning my work colleagues could read how much I disliked my job somedays. I decided in the end then that this wasn't the ideal platform for me.

Who day I might return. I'm not ruling it out. But it is long past time for a trial separation.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hello February

Hey...February...hi..over's the Spiralling Shape. I know you're quite busy what with monstrous tropical cyclones and political uprisings in Egypt etc but I wonder if we might take five minutes for quick chat?


I'll be quick. Let's begin by looking back at January shall we? I think we both would agree that it was a little bit icky. Apart from the ten days in Tasmania, there were natural disasters, death, funerals, heartache and an almost complete disillusionment with my job. It would be wonderful if you could see your way clear not to try and "top" these lowlights, but rather to improve, to be the best month you can possibly be, not just for me but for everyone. On this shiny new first of the month you are full of potential to bring joy and sunniness into our lives. Take up the challenge February and you might just surprise yourself

I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks for your time