Friday, December 24, 2010

London 2012 prediction, part deux

If you are only now tuning in to see the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, you have just missed a a most raucous performance by The Knights Who Say Ni Again - I don't think any of us can look at a saucepan the same way again!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow... but expect delays.

Has everyone enjoyed their delayed and/or cancelled flights and unseasonal wads of snow? Yes? No? You find this question cruel as you are desperately trying to build up some Christmas feeling in Australia, of all places, and the season just isn't the same when it's stinking hot? Thought so.

Monday, December 20, 2010

London 2012 prediction, part 1

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. We are only moments away from the official start of the games of the thirtieth Olympiad. We do of course all remember the staggering scale and awe-inspiring skill of the Beijing 2008 ceremonies: those thousands of drummers performing in absolute unison, the exquisite closing ceremony fire works, timed to coincide exactly with the shooting of dissidents. Now, a hush descends over the stadium and we are about to discover what Britain has brought to the world.

...oh look, it's the Wombles.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So, Wikileaks, huh?

I've been wanting to write about the whole Wikileaks/Assange business for a while, but until now I have let my relative ignorance on the issue stop me. I'm not going to pretend to have a particularly well thought-through opinion on any of this, but I just thought it might be useful (for me, if no one else) to write down some of my thoughts about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gendered trauma?

According to some recent research, what is often thought to be postnatal depression is actually post-traumatic stress disorder.

Without going into the merits of the argument (I don't have the necessary medical understanding), beyond an emphatic agreement that birth is traumatic, I can't help but wonder about the implications of the theory. Put this down to my recent reading of Superfreakonomics, but I do suspect that there is more funding out there for research on PTSD, given its associations with war, violence and other more 'manly' pursuits, than on PND, which is clearly a more feminine affliction and still relatively widely thought to be just part of a natural process. Could the traumatic experiences of parturient mothers be taken more seriously or have more support services directed towards them if they were framed in the same terms as those of soldiers?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Form and Content

Now, before you panic, I'm not going all Brecht-Lukacs on you.

Instead, I thought I'd spend a little bit of time talking through my thesis. Not the argument, heavens no, not even the general gist of it. You probably couldn't care less. But what I can reasonably hope is that you, too, will care about what it looks like. Because you've been through teh internets and hated on Papyrus and Comic Sans, because you squirm uncomfortably at the thought of double-spacing: it just seems so patronising and vacant at the same time, suggesting that either the writer or the reader has a bit too much space where actual thoughts should be, right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Got faith? Autoexcommunication in action

I've been fascinated reading about the recent kerfuffle in Finland over the unfortunately-titled current affairs program Homoilta, or Gay Evening, on Finland's public broadcaster on Tuesday. The program included discussion about homosexual couples' rights to marriage and adoption. I haven't seen the program, but from all accounts the very right-of-centre views of Päivi Räsänen, the leader of the Christian Democratic party, in particular have caused an unexpected reaction against the Finnish Lutheran church. From what I've read Räsänen is of the 'hate the sin, love the sinner'-view: that it's ok to 'feel' gay as long as you don't do anything about it. Good luck with that, gays.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Krótki pomyślenie o filmie

I'm thinking about European cinema: the texts, the makers, the markets and so on. And I think I've come up with the film that best represents all of European cinema. Are you ready?

Carry on Godard! I Know What You Did Last Year in Marienbad... With Monika.

Now all I need is for someone to make it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dream On, Baby (Part Two)

I've posted about Mila's Daydreams, a blog of lovely imaginative scenes built around a sleeping baby, before. I couldn't resist doing it again, particularly since I'm in a bit of a fairy tale zone teaching-wise at the moment. So, here is one more. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pimp My Essay

I'm currently finishing off my first batch of marking for the semester - I know, lucky me, right? As anyone who has marked essays in the past knows, it's always a painful process. Even when the essays are all okay, there are some persistent problems that come up, and your brain gets sore from trying to think how many times you've had to correct them in the past.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waiter, can of worms please. And make it snappy.

In today's Crikey Guy Rundle argues that adoption rights should not be extended to male homosexual couples. Rundle doesn't suggest that there would be something wrong about a two-father household as such, but that because as a species humans have

"an unusual degree of infant dependency [...] [i]t would be bloody unusual if an infant were not oriented to the female body in a pretty hard-wired and powerful way. It would be doubly unusual if the sustained existence of that bond did not lie at the root of psychic development.[...] It seems undeniable that a predisposition to seek, to hold, to cling to the specifically female body is part of our given nature.

So let's get that straight (as it were), shall we? Because babies were born to breastfeed, gay men shouldn't be allowed to adopt. Right.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What goes "Create New Folder" in the night?

This weekend I've been caught in the crossfire of different aspects of teaching (class preparation and marking), research (thesis and non-related entirely new whizz-bang sparkly article projects), job search and social life (I have one, who knew?).
And you know what? I'm loving it.
I got home from a party with my own kind, oddly inspired by the general relaxed camaraderie that naturally forms among the overeducated idle poor. I had ideas. I even had to get out of bed at 2.30am to write down a rough plan for an article. I'm now looking at expanding my sights into ghosts, the public sphere, peer learning and volcanoes.

I should go out more often, yes?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weight for me!

It occurred to me today that I haven't weighed myself since aroundabout Christmas, when I officially got back to my pre-pregnancy weight (the Holy Grail of the newly delivered). That's almost nine months now. So I thought I'd set myself the pseudo-feminist challenge of not weighing myself for a full year. Hurrah the sisterhood and boo to body image issues and all that.

Now, clearly not weighing myself hasn't really been an issue so far: I haven't particularly been aware of myself in weight terms, if that makes sense. It's probably not all good, and really just means that the part of my brain that might have once wondered how much I weigh is now occupied with thoughts of the damage breastfeeding a scratchy, tuggy little being is doing to my ladylumps. Feel free to repress that thought now, by the way.

For now, I'll focus on the little victory, and continue not to know where I'd tilt the scales, for at least another three and a bit months.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In the nuddy

Yesterday Gruen Transfer discussed the marketing of shaving apparatuses in its usual insightful/light-hearted manner. All seemed to go along expected lines until regular panelist Rusself Howcroft mentioned that many 20-year-old men had never seen women with pubic hair, "except their mothers". Cue stunned giggling, clapping, and an awkward "what are you saying, Russell"? About an hour ago @GruenHQ tweeted "If you were stopped dead by the line about mothers and pubic hair, consider the fact that Russel's mum was actually in the studio audience."

Is it really that controversial to suggest someone might have seen their parents naked?  Honestly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Onwards and upwards

Over the past couple of days I've been toying with the idea of applying for a job. I won't go in to the details of said job, but it exactly the sort of project-based research/writing position I think I'd be excellent at, and it looks as though the hours could be fairly flexible, so it would suit me fantabuloriffically. Of course, there are the complicating factors of Thesis and Baby.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On Plan B

Today I direct you towards a blog post by one of my more sparkly and spectaculoriffic conference buddies, Phil. Phil went to the (in?)famous Screen conference in Glasgow, and had an underwhelming time - a neat contrast to another friend who went a couple of years earlier and experienced/witnessed exactly the sort of mean nastiness Phil refers to.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How hung is your parliament?

Australia had a federal election on Saturday. It was always going to be a close call, but it's so very, very close that we still don't know who won.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What I learned at UWA Expo

The university expo was on yesterday, and I did about an hour or so of leaflet-distribution and question-answering.

I died a little on the inside when one person asked these two questions:

"What kind of a job do you get at the end of it?" (What with Arts being a vocational course an' all...)

followed immediately by

"Is it hard or is it a fairly relaxed course? It's just that, if you have to, you know, do lots of things it's probably not for me"


Saturday, August 14, 2010

The one where I discover I'm a fox.

So the semester has well and truly started, and my tutorials are going well so far. Rather predictably the teaching has taken up all my thesis writing time, and it has been weeks since I've even opened the document. What I also knew would happen, because it always has done, is that once I start teaching I start gravitating towards doing research in the teaching field. So for the moment my mind buzzes with research projects related to classic fairy tales, or perhaps even Star Wars (because of the monomyth connection). When I taught Kalevala and national romanticism, I was all about that, and I still think I might one day do a bit more of an exploration of the "Kalevala process". When I teach first-year contemporary Europe topics I go all giddy about EU expansion and integration - that at least I've been able to channel into my Eurovision Song Contest project, which I now solemnly swear I will submit by the end of the year. The Communciation& Culture survey unit, with Habermas and medieval processions and whatnot got me going on urban space and nostalgia, censorship and pedagogy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Showers easing, Apocalypse unlikely.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane to a time more innocent, exciting and soggy: March 22nd, 2010.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today is a quiet day. One hopes.

Okay, so it turns out that fifteen hours in a gym with a ten-month-old is a looooong day. Particularly when said ten-month-old decided the day should really start at 3am. Even so, it was a good day: Ben placed in the top eight, we caught up with lots of people and finished the day with some exceptional pizzas - Little Caesar's catered at the venue in the evening (warning: the website plays loud music).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

En Garde!

I'm doing some final preparations for tomorrow's tutorials - I'm teaching again this semester, and following a year's worth of not-teaching it feels a bit weird. The feeling isn't helped by the fact that I'll be teaching in the Social Sciences building. I'll be on unfamiliar terrain, beyond the car park!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Release the Policy Nerd!

I'm the ultimate multi-tasker: I'm having a cup of tea, knitting, listening out to hear whether Sebastian is snoring/vomiting (we've had a rough night behind us...), and trawling through the publication search of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. I like reports and policy statements far more than may be healthy.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chez Moi

Today's thought experiment: if I ran a cafe, what would it be like?
  • There would be high chairs, and a little nook with toys for the roaming variety of little bean
  • Comfy couches, powerpoints,wifi
  • Hot chocolates made from real melted chocolate
  • Tea would be loose leaf
  • Free refills
  • Cakes would be small - no one need brick-sized wads of the stuff
  • Food mainly vegetarian, with options available for the dairy/egg/gluten-free proportion of the population
  • Magazines! Games! Pens and scribbling paper!
  • Wheel chair accessible toilets and a separate baby change room

...if anyone happens to know of such a magical place, let me know.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dream On, Baby

It's been a day of dreams! First I find out one of my ladee friends had an action- and anxiety-packed dream involving me and some apple pie, and then I came across this, the best maternity leave project, ever: Mila's Daydreams. Lovely, creative scenes built around a sleeping baby. This photo is one of my favourites:


Monday, July 26, 2010

Small Screen Families

I've yet again been struck by how good the British are at television comedy. Now, as much as part of me wants this post to descend into joke bingo (I ate all your bees! Hairy inquisitive sex octopus with concealement crevices! This is an ex-parrott!), more recently I've actually been thinking about the programs that are less jokey and more about relationships, in a more realistic and down-to-earth way than most comedies.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

For she's a jolly good fellow...

Today was a somewhat sad day: my buddy Sandra is moving back to Germany, so we had a last quick catch-up at uni with lots of friends. Sandra and I met at a scholarships information session the year before we started our studies, we've been office neighbours all this time, lived along the same street for a while (okay, so it's a long street), did the teaching Internship and worked on Limina at the same time, and we both had Big things happen to us last year. I've met lots of charming, witty and sparkly people through her and my postgrad experience has been better for her presence.

Perth will be a gloomier place without Sandra.

(on an unrelated, but cheerier note: Sebastian curled up to sleep tonight cuddling... a spoon.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Uncluttererising Part Two; or The One Where I Say Bad Things About Books

The uncluttering project is going slowly. It's hard to organise things when you're also trying to keep a crawler away from powercords or from eating all those important bits of paper and/or the dead bugs that accumulate behind piles of said important papers. Things are in that stage where, if you know what you're looking for, you can tell there is order among the chaos, but if you don't all you can see is chaos.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday reading

I got Outi Heiskanen's Tehtävä Suomessa on interlibrary loan, although in that frustrating version that only allows access to the book inside the library. So I spent my Sunday afternoon  in the library, reading about Finland in films by non-Finns, such as Helsinki playing Moscow or St Petersburg during the Cold War.*

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I'm taking some inspiration from Unclutterer and sorting through the study. It's a mess, with bits and bobs everywhere - even when I  have organised things in the past I tend to end up with a "misc." pile. One misc. pile on top of another, time passes... problems develop. Not all of the clutter is mine, of course (like the computer gadgetry and physics textbooks from the early 1990s...), so I can only really sort through my own stuff, but here's hoping that I can at least clear my workspace, sort out my side of the bookcases and be all super-productive and organised come next semester.

...When I venture back into teaching. Eeep!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Old Spice Magic

I hadn't seen the Old Spice The Man Your Man Could Smell Like ad until last week, when the Gruen Transfer featured it. But see it I did, and loved it. I want two tickets to that thing I love!

And yesterday the dashing Mr Internet, Tama Leaver, wrote about the Old Spice campaign getting cleverer than clever, with the Old Spice Man replying to people's comments on the ad here.

I could link to individual ones 'till the cows come home, but I won't. Except just a couple.

Try Gillette and poor taste, jhodsdon on the ladies, and - in reference to my previous, boob-themed post - RobbieBrewer and the old Spice man as a baby.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Great Boob's up!*

Over the past couple of days I've read Alison Bartlett's Breastwork and Fiona Giles' Fresh Milk, both fascinating studies of breastfeeding and its various social and cultural values. I loved getting different perspectives on the process, particularly when, for the large part, the main 'issues' around breastfeeding seem to be whether it's ok to do it in public or how to support women who want to breastfeed but have difficulties in getting started, without making women who can't or won't breastfeed feel inadequate.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

...and "action"!

I'm sorting through references and notes, moving things around, changing the structure, looking at all the chapters at the same time and feeling a strange sort of buzz. This is going to get done, not now or next week, but it will be done. And it's exciting.

Even so, I'd much rather the whole writing process could just be replaced with a an action-packed writing montage. Set to It's a Kind of Magic.


One dream one soul one prize one goal
One golden glance of what should be
Its a kind of magic
The rage that lasts a thousand years
Will soon be done

Woe is me!

Why is it that ideas come together at 1am, when I should be in bed, knowing that I won't be able to get down to kneading the bastard of a thesis tomorrow morning, either?

Curses to you, Muse.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A rhizome by any other name...

Danica reminded me today that I had promised to explain where the name "Siberian Ginseng" came from, but had not yet delivered. The shame!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of...

...Eurovisions past? I have the scaffolding of a Eurovision Song Contest article tucked away in one of my folders, and it beckons me. What is a girl to do?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not Guilty, Your Honour

Yesterday, somewhere in-between leaving the house and sitting in a cafe drinking a weak latte and aiming spoonfuls of yoghurt at the boy, I realised something: I don't feel guilty.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A message from our sponsors...

I've been amazed at how quickly the 'targeted adverts' in the sidebar change. Yesterday the ads were all about doing Master's degrees and "buy your assignment here" (sigh), now it's sleep solutions for baby. Technology, I am in awe of you.

Nap time

...the boy's, that is. I'm going to try and make the most of what have become more or less predictable sleeping routines over the past couple of weeks. He usually goes down for about half an hour around nine, having woken up between six and seven. The next nap is longer, about an hour and a half, after lunch.

So, the grand plan shall be to try to get up a blog post in the morning, and do something thesis-y during the afternoon nap. Here's hoping it turns out as achievable in reality as it sounds plausible in theory...*

While I'm here I might as well put down some thoughts on the whole sleep issue with babies. The holy grail of parenthood (in the first year at least) seems to be getting the baby to "sleep through", which basically means the baby goes to sleep at night and doesn't wake his parents up before morning. Everyone wakes up during the night to some degree and has periods of lighter sleep, but adults don't tend to remember waking up because they know how to resettle themselves back to sleep very easily. Babies can't automatically do that, and often need help getting back to sleep. Add to that the fact that small babies also need to be fed every couple of hours, particularly when breastfed, it means that parents do have to be resigned to some level of sleep deprivation.

The first month or so of new parenthood is pretty gruesome, but after a while you do get used to waking up frequently - to the point that one night when the baby slept for a magical four hours straight, my husband and I still woke up after three and waited around to be "needed". And for the most part waking up frequently to breastfeed a baby wasn't that bad, particularly when Ben would get up and bring the Wee One over and take him back again. (In case anyone ever tries to convince you breastfeeding is only something mothers do, that's only half the truth: dads can make a huge difference in how well the whole thing works)

After a while, though, it becomes clear that the baby doesn't 'need' you in any real way as often as he wakes up, but is simply used to waking up and being helped back to sleep. For us that point came when we realised that, given he's eating at least three solid meals a day, he couldn't possibly be as hungry during the night as he was as an exclusively breastfed baby.

We used a fairly flexible reading of Save Our Sleep and The New Contended Little Baby Book, and the 'tricks' that worked for us were
  • bedtime routine (dinner, bath, breastfeed, cuddle) followed by putting the fully awake baby into his own bed (still in our room, though)
  • ignore the protest and tired cries
  • if he starts crawling around in bed or gets genuinely distressed, we help him settle down (without picking him up) and stay with him until he falls asleep
  • regular nap times during the day, no sleeping after 4pm until bed time
  • regular meals during the day
  • 'dream feed' at around 10-11 pm, although we dropped that after a week or so
We had a couple of nights when he would clearly be offended at not being picked up and fed as he had been up until that point, but that was it: he was offended, angry even, but not hungry or distressed. Soon he started settling reasonably easily, and would, as a rule, sleep for about eleven hours without needing us in between. The last couple of nights have strayed from the pattern a bit given he's coughing a lot, but by and large I think we've 'succeeded'.

I'm aware that for some people the methods we used (and the bit about ignoring certain cries in particular) amount to letting him "cry it out", which - if you believe some of the horror stories - is evil and sadistic. Although I don't know whether any "sleep expert" actually advocates leaving distressed babies to scream themselves to sleep, which is what the perception seems to be. The argument goes that babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate, which is of course true. The thing is, though, that babies don't always communicate the same thing with every cry. They have cries that don't need to be attended immediately, or in the same ways, and as hard as it can be listening to any kind of cry, if the reward for treating different cries differently is everyone having a better sleep the benefits would seem to outweight the inconveniences.

*so far, not so good: I've been adding to and editing this post while rescuing Boy Wonder from the fireplace. Shorter posts must be in order!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fifth Annual Limina Conference

Limina is a peer-reviewed online journal of historical and cultural studies run by postgraduate students at the University of Western Australia, and yesterday the collective hosted its fifth conference together with the Institute of Advanced Studies. I was a member of the collective for a couple of years, so I was duty-bound to attend. Also, I like Limina conferences.

An opening.

I'm still in the process of tweaking the layout and appearance here, and deciding on the right blogging "voice", so it will probably take some time for momentum to build, but one has to start somewhere.

The purpose of this blog is to bring together some of my thoughts on and approaches to scavenging around for a career, for want of a better word, that feels right and fits in with the rest of me. I dislike the term "work-life balance", mainly because it often seems to be only applied to women with children, but also because it implies that the two are discreet entities and the challenge is in juggling them. The real challenge is finding work that enhances life.

So, with that in mind, up and atom!