Saturday, May 29, 2010

progress

On Thursday I had a meeting with my supervisor. Actually I had a meeting with the whole academic staff as they discussed who would be my supervisor, who would be the internal examiner (this person will have hot coffee on his desk for the rest of the year!) and who will be the secondary supervisor. I then had a 90 minutes conversation with my secondary supervisor about what is wrong with my paper while my primary supervisor sat by silently.

Now, this is no comment on my supervisor, he is probably the most academically inclined member of the staff. However the secondary one is by far the most powerful and opinionated member of staff, and the one I know the best. But after that 90 minutes I now feel I have much better handle on where the whole project is going, and have managed to re-write a large amount of material (some on screen, some in my head), to pull the whole thing together.

And I've decided I need to go on a road trip. I mean study trip. To Melbourne. Which will involve lots of serious study stuff and not so much shopping, and certainly not dinner at MoVida. I am currently obsessed with the idea of dinner at MoVida. I do seriously like Melbourne. But today I could easily be there. It's the Saturday of the first of my new three day weekend structure. It's cold. It's wet. I have what must be my twentieth cup of tea in front of me, and I've just had lunch of very hot soup followed by a cheese kransky rolled in cheese and tomato pide. There are three cats spread throughout the house, fast asleep in curls of the duvet, or the rug on the couch. Carefully dispersed like an alcoholic stashes bottles, so that I can always find an ear to scratch or a paw to kiss. Still in my pyjamas at 3.30 in the afternoon I am facing the harsh reality of having to take off my bed socks so I can wash my hair before venturing out for dinner tonight.

It's like a little piece of heaven. I don't think anything could possibly make me much happier now. Unless you volunteered to come around and finish the thesis for me? That's OK, I knew it was a long shot anyhoo.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

sometimes they make it so hard

If you've read more this blog more than three times is means at least one of two things:

1. You've been reading this blog for about two years, because I think it's taken me two years to put up the last three posts.

2. You'll know that I'm a fan of Chris at A Free Man.

And Chris has written recently about a lack of blogging time. I'm with you there sister... brother, I mean brother!!!! Not only does my lack of blogging time mean that I don't have time to blog (obviously), but it largely also* means that my life is filled with things that make finding saucy little vignettes about which to blog difficult. In the last six months or so, my life has been filled with:
  • pointlessly stupid curriculum renewal projects
  • large conferences
  • work restructures
  • thesis procrastination
  • writing conference papers (for a different conference to the one in dot point two)
  • going on holiday

Obviously the last dot point, and even the one before were covered in my last post. I could write more about the holiday, I guess, but I'm notoriously crap at talking about my holidays, and hence the alternative blog full of pictures, to allow me to get out of talking to anyone about my holiday - I figure it's over and I need to move on and others don't really care they're just asking to be polite. Let's save both of us, I figure.

One piece of good news is that I will very, very shortly be a part time employee. Yes, one of the very few benefits of working in a tertiary institution is that they feel you not failing your thesis through lack of dedicated time is something they want to be involved in. So very soon Friday will be my research day (note: not my hanging out with friends, going shopping, or sitting in pubs drinking pints day. It is a research day). So hopefully this will make my life a little less stressful, and I will not only have time to blog, but will have time to do things to blog about (Sunday will now be my fun day. Or my sleep until noon day - which ever one takes my fancy on a week by week basis).

But for this post, I need to vent. Part of my job is supervision. This means approving leave, making sure that pays are run correctly, setting broad directions for the team I supervise, and telling them off when they've fucked up. If I did the last bit properly, it would basically be all I do. And as some of the other pressures at work have lessened off, I'm trying to be a better supervisor, so I got each member of my bedraggled team in and had an informal 'chat' with each of them.

One of the things about working where I do is that if I want to do a certain level of work - and I do - supervision is something that is very hard to avoid. And I don't like it, and I'm not very good at it. Why can't everyone just get on with it and do things properly so that I can concentrate on the bits of my job I like. Yes, despite what you may have gleaned from these ramblings, there are bits of my job that I do like.

On the whole these went better than I thought. I was able to tell people that I wasn't happy with their work in a nice, constructive way. Started each conversation with some good things, before I went to the bad (never sure which is the right way to do this, ie to start or finish with the bad). Even my bĂȘte noire took things well, and she was the one I had to tell off in no uncertain terms for stupid, stupid behaviour.

And then the email arrives (on her day off), saying things like 'I know what I did was wrong, but so-and-so is much worse', and 'I haven't complained about it before by Miss X does this, that and the next thing', and 'I have never liked Jo Bloggs'. etc.

sigh

sometimes people make things so hard.

Do you supervise this sort of behaviour? If so, I would love advice.

If you own a cross bow, I would love to borrow it.

On the upside, it's getting cold and frosty. This means one thing: polenta. Sometimes when the chips are down, a big bowl of creamy, cheesy cornmeal topped with roasted tomatoes and field mushrooms stuffed with garlic and butter can make everything better again.


*apologies for the split infinitive

Monday, May 3, 2010

konichiwa

Greetings all from Kyoto, upon my return from the land of the rising sun. After three weeks away from the office I am now returned, in need of a shower and starving. Here's the synopsis.

Brisbane
Visited with my bro and the erstwhile Dr Wallis. Brisbane is hot. Real hot. And not just in a groovy way, sweat was the name of the game. Ate well (thanks Dr W), saw some funky stuff at the Museum of Queensland, the Art Gallery of Queensland and the Queensland Maritime Museum.

The lovely brother also drove me up to the Sunshine Coast so that we could visit Australia Zoo. I was sooooo excited. And later in the day I was sooooo disappointed. Expensive. Naff. An Irwin self promotion vehicle. Although I did see Bindi Irwin feeding a crocodile on stage. The whole audience was willing the animal to take her. Unfortunately we were disappointed. Again. I must admit the crocodile show was good, although brief (too much plugging of young Bindi's new straight to video movie).

The Elephant enclosure was also good. Other than that it was rather dull, very sticky and the food was horribly overpriced and near inedible - how somewhere that plugs itself as a conservation centre could serve such obviously battery reared, unhappy, chemical riddled chicken at its restaurant is beyond me. Bleaaagggh.

Townsville
Far North Queensland-ahoy! Even more sticky, but beautifully air conditioned! Went to a wonderful predators of the deep show at Reef HQ, the local aquarium, and enjoyed some great coffee. The conference was hit and miss. Some interesting sessions, some really boring sessions, some totally inspirational sessions. However on the whole it just seemed to be an excuse for people to catch up with people they flirted with at the last conference, not great professional networking going on, and frankly I'm too old and grumpy for it, so I was quite happy to leave the closing banquet early (the food was ho-hum, but I'm sure there is no way to make it otherwise when you're feeding that number of people, lunches were great tho). However on leaving the banquet I was unable to find my left contact lens.

Japan
... which meant on the flights to Japan my eye was red and angry and horribly weepy (probably from me sticking my finger in it ever ten seconds trying to find the lens. Which, by the way, never appeared).

Japan was.... strange. Extraordinarily quiet. Extraordinarily organised. And clean. And punctual. And totally utterly beautiful at every turn. But I got the feeling that not many of them are very good at making their own decisions.

I could have added pictures here, but I have created the 'blog with the worst name ever'. The best are here for friends and family. And you're my friend, so feel free to browse: