Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Testing, Testing

TV Test Pattern: The Center of Chaos by Cheri Arnold.

I'm working on a new post for Galaxy but meanwhile, I've been venting my spleen over at Sarsaparilla.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm Not Super Girl

I've run out of things to say. I'm not sure if this is a long term condition, or merely a temporary phase. If it's the latter, possible causes include being mind-numb from marking an endless pile of essays, where subject-verb agreement seems to have been considered an optional extra that most of the writers declined, or being frightened into inarticulateness by a due date that I'm going to miss.

Now I've realised that I'm not Supergirl (in the picture above I'm the less ready Superhero on the left), I can speak again; I've managed to actually focus on one task rather flitting anxiously between three, and lo and behold, I have progressed, at least on one particular looming task .

On the self-imposed project of blogging, I really feel as though I've lost the energy to write in the vein in which I established this blog. Of course there's no rule that says blogs can't evolve (or devolve) over time, it's just that right now I feel that I have nothing to add to everything else that's being written out there.

This isn't my resignation from the blogging world, it's just how I've been feeling over the past few weeks and right now it seems that the feeling will last for a bit into the future. But you know how Superhero types are; one minute the world is ending and the next, the world is back on its axis.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

98 Reasons For Blogging: 12

Ampersand Duck has led me astray to an excellent site for the procrastinator in everyone called Mr. Picassohead.

I thought I was being clever when I called my effort Thesis Descending Staircase, which I thought would be an homage to a work by Picasso himself (and a suitable comment on the progress of the thesis), but it turns out that before Marcel Duchamp began submitting signed urinals to galleries and daring to call it art, he was a dab hand at Cubism:

Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 (1912)

Friday, November 03, 2006

I Want To Believe

LOVERS of fatty food may be able to have their cake and eat it too, according to striking new research into a special compound found in red wine.

Pass the brie and a glass of red, please.

Do you think the obese one looks perkier for its age? I mean, they're all still alive, aren't they?

Maybe these mice need to adopt the more discerning culinary habits of the Indonesian luwak:

Apparently they're quite fussy about the coffee cherries they ingest. Some ingenious type has taken advantage of the luwak's discernment and proceeded to demonstrate what could be described as a lack of discernment, or even, from another perspective, a kind of hyper-discernment. They have taken to trailing behind the poor creature with a pooper-scooper, gathering the undigested coffee beans, washing them (thoroughly, I hope), and then roasting them lightly before selling them for $1250 per kilo.

According to The Curious Snail, the only cafe in Australia that sells you a cup of coffee (only $50) brewed from these beans is in North Queensland, thereby giving this state the cultural edge over Lygon Street in Melbourne. Depends what you mean by 'culture' I guess. Not sure it's what Raymond Williams had in mind.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

98 Reasons For Blogging: 11

11. And now for a proud sister moment...

The photo on front of this 'Hip Pocket Guide To Melbourne' was taken by my brother. You can go and admire it in a better resolution at his Flickr gallery, along with many more of his beautiful images.

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I stayed at home in an effort to do some work without being distracted by the people I share my office with. My change of venue was a successful ploy, and I got to do my washing as well. But I am faced with a dilemma. As a rule, I don’t want to work from home. Because I live by myself, I think it’s important to maintain some kind of separation between home and work, otherwise I would never go out. Lately, I have used travelling to and from the University as a way to incorporate some free, regular and (hopefully) effective exercise into my routine. Still, going out is about more than raising my heart rate; it’s also about finding ways to establish a routine, when the arrangement of my day is entirely a matter of self-discipline, and it’s also about collegial and social interaction. In regard to this latter point, dear diary, you might wonder what I’m complaining about when I tell you that I’m spending too much time in distracting conversations with the people I share my office with; isn’t conversation the reason I go to the University? The short answer is yes. I go to the University to attend seminars and reading groups, and I consider going for coffee with someone a priority on most days. When I’m in my office, however, I would like to work, whether that be internet database researching, reading or writing. I don’t like my main activity in that room to be talk. I’m not against all conversation in the office, but there are limits and I’m not quite sure how to set them. Part of the problem is that everyone in the room is at different stages in their theses. I am three months away from confirmation, so I need to start tackling the writing of that document in a concerted way and for that I find it better not to feel compelled to enter into conversation every time I or someone else enters or leaves the room. One of my office mates is near completion, so he is very focussed. I like it when he’s in the room because the others take one look at him with his headphones on, typing intently on his laptop, with books and articles on the floor near his chair, and hustle straight to their desks without a word. Another office mate has just started her thesis and she is new to this country as well, so in addition to her thesis she is concerned with making social connections and improving her English. I am not indifferent to this and have enjoyed many excellent conversations with her, but when my work isn’t going as well as I want it to, I’m afraid that I resent making conversation. Perhaps I should try the headphone tactic. Even if there’s no music playing, it constitutes a clear signal that says ‘I’m not available to talk right now’. I'm worried about being rude and inhospitable and making her feel unwelcome. The last person I share an office with is at an awful time in her thesis. Her scholarship is about to run out and she is far from completion. Her initial supervisor got a job overseas and she has a fraught relationship with her current supervisor. That mix of insecurity, fear and conflict makes for a combination of anger and bitterness that seems to need constant expression. Again, I’m not indifferent. I experienced this same convergence of circumstances and the subsequent cocktail of emotions when I did my Master’s thesis, and I didn’t have the responsibility of a child as she does. Still, even before we shared a room I always found our conversations to be like walking a tightrope; I am exhausted by the effort they require since I feel I can never fully relax. I often feel patronised by her, and again that makes for a level of resentment that lately I just don’t want to hold in. Today, in fact, dear diary, I gave a very brief vent to my resentment and frustration in response to my perception that I was being patronised, but it was also fuelled by feeling constantly diverted from my work by circular and exhausting conversation. And then I left the room to attend a prior commitment and proceeded to avoid her for the rest of the day. Dear diary, I am not proud of myself. I think I need to apologise, but I don’t know how to do it sincerely and address the problem at hand. But I wonder if it’s worth investing the effort into smoothing things over, beyond a functional surface level, with someone who I’m not likely to ever be best friends with. Will discussing my feeling of being patronised merely create unnecessary problems? So you see my dilemma, dear diary. What should I do?

Yours sincerely,

98 Reasons For Blogging: 10

10. As a mother and a blogger... No, this is not another overly confessional, revealing post (I have not had a baby since we last spoke). You've had enough of those from me lately. I just thought if I began this post with 'As a mother and a blogger...' you would be instantly enthralled by whatever I had to say; my moral authority would be unquestionable in a way that it wouldn't be if I began, 'As an aunt and a blogger...' or 'As a daughter and a blogger...', even 'As a sister and a blogger'. What if I said 'As a spinster and a blogger...'? , 'As a woman and a blogger...?', or 'As a single mother and a blogger...'? Well, I couldn't say that last one, but I think it would probably hold even less authority than the spinster one, since we as a society don't like our mothers to err by doing it by themselves, for what ever reason.

Now, I've lead you this far, convinced you of my moral authority, I have to disappoint you. I have nothing to say as either a woman, a spinster, an aunt, a daughter, or a blogger. Here's a comic for stopping by: