But Will Science Wait?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:08 am

I’m in the process of applying for entry to a Master of Philosophy degree in Physics at Griffith Gold Coast – some time within the next couple of days I’ll post my 500 word research proposal here just for your interest.

Shouldn’t be too much hassle getting accepted, I wouldn’t think: I’m not qualified for a PhD, not having done any research in science, but the MPhil is an entry-level research degree, and with the GradCert I just completed I should be fine.

Thing is, I really should probably defer getting started on the Masters for another year: I’m still getting settled in at Griffith, and will be teaching 3 new courses in Semester One and massively revising another in Semester Two next year. Plus I need to keep on publishing plenty of papers in Education…

So I’m thinking about it, but the problem is that science research is much more collaborative than research in Education is (or has been for me). Each little project is part of a larger program of research, and if I wait a year longer to do my little project, that potentially delays other people’s work by a year – with implications for funding, publications and their own work.

So, still thinking it through. It might be possible to have it all… but I have to be strategic about priorities, and disciplined with my time.


It’s OK to ‘Unfriend’ Me

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:48 am

I’m totally happy if someone ‘unfriends’ me on Facebook. For a start, that’s because I understand that it doesn’t mean we’re not friends any more. Facebook is social media, and serves certain purposes, but it doesn’t determine whether or not someone is a friend of mine.

Indeed, unfriending on Facebook may well help to preserve our friendship. That’s because most of the reasons people might choose to unfriend on Facebook are irritations… and I don’t want to irritate my friends. There are plenty of other media we can use to keep in touch – including this blog!

So, if:

  • I’m just too posty and I flood your feed
  • You disagree passionately with the things I post
  • You find things I post too sweary, vulgar or whatever
  • Stuff I post is simply not to your taste
  • You have any other reason, or no reason

…then please do feel free to ‘unfriend’ me: I promise I won’t take offense.

(doing this on my blog, knowing it will be echoed to Facebook anyway… and I’ll be able to link back to it later if it’s here)



Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:21 am

I have many friends – people with whom I discuss the deep and meaningful stuff, and the random silly stuff, people who know me well enough to get my jokes and call me on my bullshit self-deception.

Thing is, pretty much all of them are online. Some within an hours drive, many on the other side of the world. They’re real friends, not ‘virtual’, and I treasure them (you) all. Some I’ve met face-to-face, many I haven’t.

It means I don’t really miss having local, face-to-face friends all that much: which is probably a good thing, since our nomadic lifestyle means we end up leaving good friends behind. It doesn’t bother me, but it does bother Suzie, who doesn’t do the ‘online thing’ in the same way, and would very much love to find some good local friends to spend time with.

The fact that we’ve stopped going to church arguably makes that harder to achieve – and haven’t really replaced that with any other regular social activity with a group of like-minded people. Part of the problem, of course, is that there don’t seem to *be* a lot of like-minded people around, who share enough interests and ideas with both of us that a really deep friendship can form.

The various web-based communities I participate in are kind of pre-sorted for likemindedness: not agreement on the issues, necessarily, but a penchant for discussing ideas rather than people (or, worse, celebrities and reality TV shows).

Of course, my best friends in the world are right here: Sue, Cassie and Alex. It’s been really nice being able to spend more time with Alex lately, and I’ll miss her a lot when (seemingly inevitably) she heads off elsewhere in the world… but at least we have online tools and skills for keeping in touch.

Anyway, I’ve digressed a bit. What I started out to talk about is the one main disadvantage of my particular blend of friends (apart from the difficulty of having a mate to go to concerts with – there aren’t enough guys close enough to my age (or perhaps any age) with similar tastes).

It’s just this: if there’s a sensitive issue at work, who do I talk to about it to work it through for myself? Suzie and Cassie are at home, and are great sounding boards, but Suzie is 100% reliably in my corner… which is lovely, but what if I’m wrong? And Cassie shares many of her ideas and values with me as well… what I need is more of an ‘outside’ perspective.

But most of the venues in which I talk with my online friends – this blog, Twitter, Facebook, the William Gibson Board and so on – are public. It would be dumb and career-threatening to post about work-related issues when once-and-former colleagues (and students) are also Facebook friends. And Google can dig up *anything* I post on the net.

Not sure I really have a solution… but it’s a pretty minor niggle, really, and there are always PMs and email if I need to chat more deeply with someone about something sensitive.

So, the bottom line here is, ‘here’s to you, my friends – I love and value you all’.


Father’s Day

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:59 am

Belly is groaning, and heart is full: my gorgeous daughters just made me a delicious Father’s Day breakfast1.

It’s been a great weekend, and it’s not finished yet: they’re gaming and I’m posting right now, but the plan is definitely to get out and about on a big sunny Gold Coast spring day, and possibly to see whether we can hire canoes and get out on the water.

Last night Alex and I went to a rugby league game: my team (since I was 10), the Manly Sea Eagles playing the new Gold Coast Titans at home on the coast. Alex was supporting the Titans, and it was a good game though it bogged down a bit in the second half. But the company was the best bit.

When Alex mentioned the (Jungian) term ‘synchronicity’ while talking about how she’d spontaneously begun singing ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ earlier in the day, I have to admit I felt as though I might have got some of this parenting lark right!

On Friday night we were at the Trivia quiz night at UQ Ipswich, both of the girls, Crank and me, and that was a heap of fun too. We came (equal) second for the evening, which was decent, but again, the company was the point. Alex couldn’t believe hardly anyone could answer her question (we got to contribute quiz questions) about the Mabo decision, and Crank had the same reaction to the audience’s ignorance about Richard Feynman.

Basically, I think the thing is that my children (raised, of course, with their currently absentee-because-working-too-much mother, Sue) are people with whom I love spending time. And other people, of all ages, also enjoy spending time with them. They’re both very smart and well informed without being obnoxious about it, and both nerds in the best sense. Cassie is currently impressing her students while prac teaching with her knowledge of gaming and metal music, and with the depth of her knowledge of science and skill in communicating it, and Alex was ranting about misunderstandings of the philosophy of Epicurus at breakfast.

On the way back from trivia on Friday night we had a wide-ranging and passionately argued discussion about whether the music and the ‘stuff’ of today is more disposable than that of the past and whether that makes it more or less valuable, that started from the ‘Fogeydom‘ post here and spread to economics and novelty and policy and sutainability.

I learn from them… all the time. And maybe that’s the key parental transition, that happens all the way through… moving from a mostly pedagogical (in Max van Manen’s sense2) role to being fascinated co-learners about the world who share our curiosities with our kids, as they share theirs with us.

  1. For anyone wondering, the small loot was a packet of ginger in dark chocolate that I’m strictly enjoined I *don’t* have to share, and the big one was a service for my bicycle, which desparately needed one, so I can get active. I guess in a way the gifts will cancel each other out… 😉
  2. Max says something like ‘pedagogy occurs when an older person is with a younger person with the intention of helping the younger person develop’


Well there are two three paths you can go by…

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:43 am

…but in the long run/There’s still time to change the road you’re on. – Led Zep

Here’s a post on this blog from 2005, when we were deciding whether to stay in Canada, go to Scotland or come back to Australia: http://www.bravus.com.au/blog/?p=225

And here’s one from 2009, when a similar dilemma presented itself, but we ended up staying here: http://www.bravus.com.au/blog/?p=1407

That time has come around again: the feet have started to itch, and a couple of opportunities have presented themselves, so we once again have three ‘possible futures’ in front of us.

Not sure how they got my name, but someone at Harvard emailed me directly to say they’re looking for a person in ‘learning technologies’ – which is where a lot of my recent work has been – and could I suggest anyone good or did I want to apply myself. I suggested someone good, and applied myself! It would be pretty amazing if it happened, but I’m not sure what the chances are1. I could totally do it, and bring a wide range of experience and ability to the role, but of course for one of the world’s top universities the competition is going to be fierce{/Tyra}.

There’s always the possibility of staying here, of course. I have a great job at one of Australia’s top universities that I enjoy a lot, am up for promotion soon, have great colleagues and a lot still to do here. It’s the most probable outcome, and by no means a bad one. It would mean staying closer to the girls over the next few years, since no matter where we go they’ll probably stay around here.

But the Harvard application had got the feet itching, so I just looked around a bit at some other interesting possibilities. We’d talked about going to work in Brunei for well over a decade – it’s a very cool small country in our region which I might post more about later. There’d never been a job available, but this time when I looked Universiti Brunei Darussalam, the one major state university, was advertising for an Associate Professor of Physics Education… which is also something I’m very well suited to do. So I’ve fired off an application for that, as well.

It’d be lovely to get offered both roles, and have to choose… I suspect the timing and everything else will conspire against that outcome.

The three futures are very different:

Harvard would be amazing, and would give me much more access to be internationally influential and build a reputation, build links, gain large grants and do important research, and so on. It would be interesting in that we do tend to move on every 5-7 years or so, but always upward… I have about 18 years of my career left before retirement age, but there are really not that many upward moves as an academic from Harvard! It’s also Boston, which would be culturally interesting and a nice area to live in, and has seasons including below-freezing conditions and snow… white Christmas, but not so much with the all-year motorcycling.

Brunei would be amazing in a different way. It’s a great university and a really good place to teach. Most Bruneians speak English, and the medium of instruction would be English, but we’d want to learn Malay as well. The country is very small – a few hundred thousand people – and very wealthy due to oil and natural gas reserves. There’s no personal income tax and a rich set of benefits for academics (though a lower salary than Harvard so the finances all come out in the wash). It’s tropical, on the South China Sea, and has great beaches and rainforests. In terms of lifestyle and outdoor living, and in terms of the ability to really make a contribution to the development of the nation, it would also offer great benefits.

Staying here is also not a bad thing: we’d want to make some changes because Sue and I have both been working too hard and not enjoying life enough, but that’s doable. Certainly I’m very blessed and privileged in the job I have, which allows me huge autonomy and work I really enjoy. And Cassie is likely to be here for at least another year and a bit, and then to still at least be in Queensland and Alex has another couple of years study – and then who knows where she’ll be?

Uncertainty is… uncertain, but it’s very nice to have options and choices, and I definitely prefer it over a life lived all in one place, where a personhas some ceretainty about where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing for the next few decades…

  1. And one of the things I’m aware of is that, if I get on the short list and they google me, this post may well come up… {waves to the nice Harvard people} – “you know I’m the best possible guy for the job!”


Random Health Stuff

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:26 am

Got some blood tests done a couple of weeks ago, and in all the sleep lab stuff forgot to ring for the results. Did that earlier this week and they said “Yeah, a couple of things were high, the doctor wants to see you”, and made an appointment for a couple of days later (which was this morning). Given that one of the tests was the prostate cancer one and Sue’s boss passed away from prostate cancer in the past couple of months it should have been an anxious couple of days, but I’m oddly fatalistic about this stuff: worrying won’t change it.

Fortunately that test was fine. There were three things highish. One was eosinophils (spelled phonetically from memory), which is associated with allergies, so no surprises there. One was one liver enzyme, which is not too worrying, but the prescription was “lose more weight, do more exercise”. The other was LDLs, the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol. There were a few things to be done, including avoiding animals fats, increasing fibre and taking fish oil1, but the bottom line was “lose more weight, do more exercise”. The sleep apnea folks also said losing weight would help, so…

Watch for buffer, svelter me!

  1. Matt swears by it for focus and concentration as well as its effects on cholesterol. Couple that with the effects of the apnea treatment, I should be laser focused and sharp. I may kinda miss ‘vague, mellow me’. 😉


It’s Complicated

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:34 pm

You have a few options to pick when describing your relationship status on Facebook, from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship with’. One of the options is ‘it’s complicated’… and of course it’s kinda scary if someone you’re ‘in a relationship’ with switches their status to that.

Have to say that for me right now, that would be the one I’d pick in relation to God, Jesus, religion, all of that stuff. Not single, not really in a relationship… it’s complicated.


At Church

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:09 am

So, I went to church yesterday, for the first time in about a year. We had been going to Kenmore Baptist for a year or so before that, but a few clashes of ideology and politics, and just a general malaise meant we no longer really ‘fitted’ there.

Personally I’d be comfortable enough just doing without church altogether, but Sue wanted to go, and keeping her happy is what life is all about, so I happily dressed up a tad more than usual (but still in jeans) and tagged along to Brisbane Central Seventh-day Adventist.

We both grew up up Seventh-day Adventist, so everything was pretty familiar – more so than it had been at the Baptist church. We’d been attending more ‘contemporary’ styled churches, both SDA and otherwise, for quite a while, but this was very old-school in style: hymns from the hymnbook, played on piano and organ.

I actually enjoyed that more: I’ve ranted here before (1, 2, 3, 4 – number 3 is the best one to read if you only read one) about ‘contemporary’ Christian music and worship styles. This church had a few hymns, interspersed with other things, and that suited me fine. An old Islander couple played the music – she on the organ and he on the piano, and he was actually quite funky, hanging off the beat and mixing it up a bit.

I think before we stopped going to church I’d got to the point where I’d focus on one irritant – a prayer that God would support ‘his people Israel’ while they bombed the living crap out of the Palestinians again, or whatever – and miss anything good that was going on. Having the hiatus meant I was ready to look for the good as well as the bad.

The bad was there – the mission story was about how a young man set out to prove that Sunday-keeping churches were right and the Seventh-day Adventists were right, but was convinced by studying the Bible that the SDAs had The Truth and the other churches were wrong – but I was able to just let it slide. I’ll probably post something later this week about my attitudes and ideas, but having more distance from that stuff means I just let it be what it is.

But there was good to: the sermon was clear, engaging and encouraging, and people were very friendly and included us in discussion, invited us over for coffee and so on.

I suspect we’ll be going back, at least for a few weeks, and see where it goes from there. I don’t feel as though I need it for myself, but I’m also not scared of it or repulsed by it, and if I can have a happy wife, I’m happy…


Better than ‘Good Enough’

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:18 pm

I don’t really do New Years resolutions1. But chatting with my friend Neil Kelly the other day he asked me whether I had any, which helped start me thinking. I’m also on my last day of 3 weeks of much-needed holidays, well rested and refocused, and ready to take stock of 2009 and think about what I want in return for my time in 2010.

I have this problem. Things tend to come easily to me, in terms of my chosen career. Whatever gifts and talents I was born with, along with the ways in which the people in my life, my education and my own activities have developed those gifts, have meant that I find it very easy to read, write and teach. A paper that would take many of my colleagues a week to write takes me a day. I can toss off a sonnet or sestina, or one of the other ‘difficult’ forms of poetry, in half an hour or so. And so on. Not bragging, because not much of it is down to me at all. Just the way it is.

But because it’s so easy, I have little patience. I tend to whip out something ‘good enough’ and then not have the patience to polish it until it’s really excellent. I have a good memory for references, which is one of the things that makes me quick to write, but it also means I tend to rely on the old references I already know rather than go looking for new ones. And so on…

Same with teaching – I can pretty much walk into a classroom with minimal preparation and teach an engaging, interesting, informative lesson while flying by the seat of my pants. I see the student survey data for the whole School Of Education, and know that I’m one of the top rated teachers.

And yet… I want to do better. I think there are three roots to the problem:

  1. Internalising other people’s standards: I’ve gotten locked into what ‘counts’ for promotion and annual reviews and other people, rather than focusing on having my own standards for myself.
  2. The aforementioned facility: It’s easy to do a ‘good enough’ job and then just take it easy and have more leisure time. But it leads to personal dissatisfaction.
  3. A philosophical view on the impossibility of perfection: Perfection is possible in very few facets of life. It’s possible to get 100% of the notes right in Guitar Hero… but even there there’s margin for error. And certainly in teaching there is always more preparation that could be done… and you do have to have a life. But I think letting go of the goal of perfection has caused me to also lose sight of the goal of excellence… and I need to reclaim that.

I was planning to apply for promotion to Associate Professor this year. I thought I had a ‘good enough’ case: I worked pretty hard on building up my publication record last year. But I realised today that (a) most of the new stuff I published last year was ‘good enough’, not really top-drawer excellent and (b) I don’t want to just scrape through my promotion hearing. What I have in mind is a slam dunk, a dead cert, a response of “Holy crap, why is this guy not applying for full Professor?!” So I’ll put off the application until 2011 and aim to get the runs on the board this year to make that a reality.

So, there it is. No huge promises or commitments2, just a quiet determination within myself to do better than ‘good enough’ this year: to aim to really satisfy myself that I’ve achieved excellence in all facets of my job.

  1. Though I did make the rather geeky joke that mine for this year is 1280×1024…
  2. But yeah, writing it here for my friends to read does constitute an accountability measure of a sort


Uncertainty II

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:35 am

So, I guess it’s all just a little bit of history repeating. I posted the first Uncertainty post in mid 2005, when the options were Perth, Brisbane or Aberdeen (Scotland).

Apparently it’s that time again. As of about half an hour ago, I once again had three ‘possible futures‘ stretching out in front of me. And, just like 4 years ago, I’ve now intentionally pruned that down to two.

I was approached a couple of months ago by Avondale College, my first alma mater, in my home town of Cooranbong. They had a couple of positions in their Faculty of Education and wondered whether I was interested in applying. One in particular was in educational research, and that’s a field in which I’ve published a couple of books and a few papers and have a fairly strong interest. Avondale is an excellent small college (1000 or so students total) in a small town, and it’s where I come from. Houses are cheaper than in Brisbane and it’s close to Lake Macquarie and beaches, as well as to friends and family. I went ahead and applied for that role.

But it’s really not the right time for us to move away from Brisbane – the family have followed me all around the world, and we’ve lived in 9 houses in 3 countries and 4 states since Cassie was born. Everyone has good friends here now, Cassie is at uni, Alex wants to study in Queensland and Sue has a good job. It wouldn’t be fair to uproot them all now and head off to New South Wales. I also have some concerns about how neatly I’d fit into a Seventh-day Adventist college where my orthodoxy would be under much closer scrutiny than just as a lay person…

So just this morning I wrote to Avondale – as I did to Aberdeen in 2005 – and withdrew my application.

The second path is the simplest one: staying right where I am at the University of Queensland. I’m in a good School and Faculty, in one of the top universities in the country, and am starting to win awards and other recognitions. I’m not getting promoted quite fast enough to suit me, but with a little patience it’s likely that I can go a long way here. Three years is an amount of time that allows people to get to know me and start asking me to do things, and moving on would have its costs in terms of starting again in a new place. My constant pattern of moving also means that in a 10 or so year academic career I’ve never had a sabbatical, and if I move now I’d put it off for another few years at least.

So, while it lacks the excitement of a big move, and while I have my frustrations with this place, it definitely won’t be a case of ‘settling’ if I stay here. There are things we can do, like moving even further east and closer to the ocean, that will happen and will make me happier, and things I can do to enhance my promotion prospects and so on, and part of the challenge is to make sure I keep growing rather than settle for just waiting for things to happen.

But it was the third possible path that really set the cat among the pigeons. Now, the probability is probably not that high, which is why I haven’t said a lot so far. But what the heck… things will happen or not as they happen, and it’s exciting, so I wanted to share.

A consultant from a search agency contacted me to ask whether I wanted to apply for the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching Quality) at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). This university is also based in Brisbane, so would not necessitate moving, just a slightly different commute. The role is at a quite high level, and would represent a very serious promotion for me. It is about ensuring and enhancing the quality of all teaching in all classes across the university. QUT is a former Institute of Technology, like Curtin University of Technology where I did my PhD, and has about 40,000 students, making it slightly larger than the University of Queensland where I currently work.

I’m confident that, no matter who else is in the selection pool, I’m the best possible person for the role. I have packed a huge amount of national and international experience with teaching, evaluating teaching and thinking and writing about teaching into a relatively short academic career, and I already have a heap of ideas for enhancing teaching at QUT. Teaching – and teaching teachers – is what I *do* and think about most, and I think I could really achieve some interesting and valuable things. QUT also identifies social justice as a significant area of concern and interest, and finding ways to serve the university’s students better (and to provide access to more students who are traditionally under-represented at university) and to also prepare them to serve others is a worthwhile goal.

Now all I have to do is convince the selection committee to share my conviction that I’m the best person for the job!


Random Notes and Incidents

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:23 pm

Been too busy to post for a while, so here’s a rapid catch-up:

  • Brisbane has had 3 wild storms this week, leading to over 320,000 houses losing power and many being destroyed. And there’s another one forecast for tomorrow. So far we’ve been rainswept but undamaged.Alex mused that although they’re devastating, these storms are good for us, because they remind us that no matter how much we try, we can’t control everything.
  • Went to Cassie’s Year 12 graduation this morning (for some reason it was from 7-9 am). A lot of fun, and good to congratulate her on this milestone. She has applied to a couple of the local unis and they are courting her with phone calls, letters and email. Guess she’ll see which offers she actually gets in a few weeks.
  • Cassie went to her senior dance on Tuesday night – one of the stormy nights, so there was lots of protecting frocks and hair from the rain, but she had a good time. Six of her friends came back to our place to sleep over, so it was a late and somewhat noisy night, but at least we knew they were all safe.
  • And, in the final Cassie news, we drove her down to the Gold Coast, with the same group of friends (minus one who was sick) this evening for ‘Schoolies Week’ – basically an end-of-school week of celebration at the beach. Schoolies itself sometimes gets a bit wild, but the girls have rented an apartment some distance from the centre of Surfers, and will basically just hang out as friends and go to the beach and so on. At least, that’s what the parents are meant to know about… 😉 They’ll be fine, they’re a great group of girls.
  • My bike had just suddenly died a couple of days ago, in an undercover car park, miles from my mechanic’s shop. I thought I’d have to transport it there, which would be expensive, but instead did a little bit of sleuthing myself and got help from people on a couple of web forums who know about bikes. They tentatively diagnosed it as just a dead battery, so I grabbed a new battery, dropped it in and all was well. $63 for a battery (and a bit of running around) was much better than a couple of hundred to transport it to the mechanic and get it checked out – and there was a fair bit of satisfaction in fixing it myself, too.
  • Working on revising some chapters for the NSW ‘Science Focus’ series of junior high science textbooks at the moment, and just fired off one chapter yesterday. It’s fun, and pays OK, and I learn a lot from the process. Must upgrade that list of my published books on my home page.
  • On the drive home this evening, Suzie was half asleep and I was listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’. I discovered that album on a cassette I bought from a schoolmate, Wayne Dobson (who I believe has since suicided), in Year 10 (so about the age Alex is now) in 1980 and listened to hundreds of times. Still love it, and (as I discovered this evening) still know every lyric, every incidental sound, every guitar solo, almost 30 years later. I kind of get what the punks claimed about Floyd’s massive budgets and spectacular shows, but you only have to listen the ‘The Wall’ to know that the band themselves were thinking seriously about those same issues. And making great music.


Good Times

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:15 am

Had dinner last night with Lorne and Dawn at the Sicilian pasta place, just a couple of blocks down from our old apartment on 116th Street. We had a great time, sitting and chatting for hours, catching up on all the news of what we and our families are up to, goals and dreams and ideas. We all commented on how the couple of years apart just melted away, and we slipped back into the some comfortable, friendly relationship we had before we left. It was great to catch up with everyone, but these guys in particular made the effort to make plans to hang out with me in the short time I was here, and I appreciate that a lot. I don’t always read Dawn’s ‘Colours of Dawn‘ blog and comment as often as I should, but I’ll aim to do better – good friends deserve better contact, and the web offers us all sorts of resources for staying in touch.


Went to the (other) game

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:02 pm

Went to a CFL (Canadian football) game with my friend Lorne (who posts here as Sirdar) this evening, and had an awesome time. It was a good close game for most of the time, but at the end the BC Lions took it away from our Edmonton Eskimos. Still, a hilarious time with a rowdy but friendly crowd around us at the game, and then a fun ride back on the train crammed in with a bunch of outgoing 20-somethings.

This was after what I think was a very successful presentation at the conference today with Jeff Burnstein and Mike Burke – Rebecca Nowacek, the fourth peron in our team, had had to stay home because she and her sons were all sick.

Looks like I will make it to church tomorrow, then we’ll see what else happens in the rest of the short time I’m here…


Goin’ to the game

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:02 pm

Well, that was a killer day! Discovered the conference, which I knew started today, didn’t start ’til this afternoon (yes, I could have checked that out earlier in the program online, but where’s the fun in that?), so I jumped on the LRT (light rail system) across the river the University of Alberta where I taught from 2001-2006. I’d arranged to meet my friend and colleague Craig Montgomerie at his office, but as it happened when I went to a coffee shop for breakfast he came in for coffee and we chatted there.

Then I went up to the Department of Secondary Education and caught up with as many people as possible there. They told me there was a talk on there in the afternoon where more colleagues would be, so I headed back across the river to the conference for one session, joined a table with a bunch of my Carnegie scholar friends, enjoyed a great session, then headed back to the U of A to the talk, which was fantastic.

It was by Frank Eglash, and was about the mathematics of African village structures, which are fractal, and the randomness inherent in Native American divination systems, and many other intriguing things. Caught up with Frank Jenkins and Max van Manen and a few other people.

The cool bit is that Frank invited me to the hockey game on Saturday night. It’s the ‘Alberta Derby’, Edmonton Oilers versus Calgary Flames, so it’s a huge deal here, and tickets aren’t available for love or money.

Lots of people still to catch up with, but a fantastic first full day in Canada.



Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:39 pm

So, on Wednesday I’m flying out for a week in Canada – back in Edmonton, the city where we lived for 5 years until 2 years ago. Should be a blast, with lots of good friends and great people to catch up with.

So right now I’m just preparing – making sure I know where my passport is and when my flights are, and that I have enough space on my credit card to pay for my hotel and gifts and food. I’m also making sure some clothes are washed and that my iPod and laptop are both charged up, and I plan on buying Neal Stephenson’s book ‘Anathem‘ for the flight.

Apart from that, it’s just a matter of trying to tie up all the loose ends before I go…


Something Generational

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:11 pm

I took Cassie for her driving test yesterday, and she got her provisional license on the first try1. So she’s now legally able to drive by herself. She bought herself a little car almost a year ago, and now she can just decide when she wants to go out. We don’t need to take her places or pick her up any more, and (Alex hopes) she can also take her sister places.

It feels like a bit of a milestone in her on-going process of becoming an adult and building a life separate from us. Apart from anything else, we used to have great opportunities to chat when I was being ‘Dad’s Taxi’ and running her around the dance and circus training and parties and so on, so I need to pay attention to still finding and making times to talk to her. But it’s also cool to see your kids growing into mature adults before your eyes.

  1. *cough* took me 5 tries *cough*



Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:23 pm

Well, the bike may not get well (yet) after all. Due to a variety of different financial issues, including the continued non-arrival of my tax refund, I may end up not having the cash to get it done. Still running around crazily trying to make it happen, but it’s looking grim.


Trivia Skills

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:51 am

We went to a Trivia night at Mt Cotton town hall (in support of the community’s opposition to the expansion of a quarry in the area) with friends last night – and won!


Didn’t Get The Job

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:25 pm

Ah well, there’s a little more certainty in my life and planning for the future now – I just got the phone call to say that I wasn’t selected for that job at Griffith University.

It would have been a great opportunity and an interesting change, but I have to admit that by the time the call finally came it was a relief: I could see how much hassle would be involved in moving unis, moving house and lots of commuting, but could also see some really good and interesting opportunities here at the University of Queensland.

So now it’s about pursuing those with vision and energy!


Still No News

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:31 pm

So, it’s two weeks since I did the job seminar for the job I applied for, and tomorrow it will be two weeks since the interview. I’d pretty much given up after a couple of days, but then a colleague who had recently got a job at the same place said it took about 4 weeks before she got her offer. So it just means I’m still in suspense – which is a bit frustrating because it would be nice to be able to settle my mind on one or the other possible future life. Just an exercise in developing patience, I guess.