Sunday, August 20, 2017

August 20. Day 232. May the force be with you

 I have been known to insinuate that I teach lecture rooms half full of crash test dummies - especially early on a Monday morning. In general terms this is not a university student's finest hour. There's a lot of intelligent life out there but it can be doing a really good job of hiding the fact. Perhaps I misjudged them. Perhaps they are super intelligent AND lifeless. They might just be robots, an area of research my university specialises in. Today was Robotronica, a celebration of all there is to know and love about robotics, AI, surgical bots, panda-bots and more. Th Garden Points campus was packed with geek, nerds and thousands of families determined to see the future or indeed the present. Given my super non-geek status I as just passing through on my way to elsewhere. However what I saw made me believe there is hope that one day I will achieve my childhood dream of having a maid just like Rosie the Robot in the Jetsons.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

August 19. Day 231. Jumping for joy

So I'm a little bit happy. For the third year in a row I've entered photos in the Brisbane exhibition - The Ekka. While the winners are announced in advance, there's a competition within a competition. Because there are so many entries in the photographic classes each photo has to be considered worth just to make it on to the walls. The only way to see if you have made the grade is to check it out yourself (or wait until the exhibits are returned and check the back for a magic sticker). The magic sticker is good. A walk around the show grounds and a Dagwood Dog is better. So off I went, camera in hand. Both my mum and my husband had already been. they reported seeing one of my photos on display. Considering I entered eight that would have been a little disappointing. In fact seven made the passing grade and two have a coveted Commended Certificate. That makes 2017 my best year to date. Ironically I felt my pics this year weren't up to the previous two years. It shows you how little I actually know about photography. Still I'll take the spoils with a big fat juicy smile - and a Dagwood Dog with sauce.

Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18. Day 230. Oh sh*t!

 As a general rule, I find looking at the world through the lens of a camera heightens my attention to detail and my focus, if you like.
But not always. Every rule is made to be broken. So it was when taking pics of a little pied cormorant sunning itself in the city botanic gardens today. I was attracted by its wings which it was flapping about. It was only when I got home that I noticed that there was action happening at the other end. It seems I interrupted a private moment. Oh sh*t. And it was quite impressive given the size of the little thing. It was clearly deeply satisfying too. We were all bad attitude up to that point and after that far more contented with the world. It just goes to show that some things are the same no matter which species you are.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17. Day 229. Laugh, kookaburra laugh

As an Australian (and I am a true blue, ridgee didge, electable to Federal parliament Australian) it is essential that I love kookaburras. Kookas are beautiful birds with laughs that bring a smile to your face even when they wake you before dawn. But my love has limits. Let's face it, Kookaburras are  a little bit intimidating especially when up close and personal. Their beaks are serious instruments designed to catch and kill snakes and rodents. This does not seem to worry my neighbour Margaret. She actually hand feeds them. Today during my visit, not one but two kookas were at Margaret's fly through restaurant. Margaret told me one was male - it had blue markings - and the one with the white markings was female. She had mince on the window sill but also let the birds - see prefers the Aussie slang term jackies  - take bits from her hand. I'd be afraid they'd take a finger or two. There's nothing about a kookaburra that appears in any way malicious but the mere power can not be ignored. What was unmistakable was just how pleased Margaret was at the return of all her beloved birds to her window.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 16. Day 228. Home sweet home

Look who's back where she belongs. After 10 days in hospital, my neighbour Margaret was allowed home today. In her own words she was as pleased as punch. As soon as she was she back in her favourite chair, she was up for visitors - of the four-legged kind. The truth is she would have been hard pressed to keep them away. The dogs heard my car come in. They heard our voices and they were kicking up quite a stink about the injustice of not being allowed a visit. The joy of both parties was unmistakable. This really shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Margaret insisted on having a copy of Winkle Did a Wee with her in hospital to show the nurses ... and the physios ... and the other patients ... and their visitors. She loves those dogs. They love her. Life is back as it should be.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15. Day 227. It's a dog's life

My dogs are the rulers of this roost.  Mostly the biggest boss is four kilos of white fluff. Small dog, big attitude. Rumple lets her get away with it.
But every now and again, the ever-calm, ever patient Rumple decides enough is enough. Rumple decides to assert his authority. Often this is on our walk.
 Rumple decides where we are going and he leaves non-one in any doubt where that will be.
He either digs his paws in and refuses to walk until we are facing the right or simply points his body and pulls.
Today I thought we were going to the University of Queensland.Rumple thought otherwise. Rumple thought we were going to the dog park. Rumple thought right. Winkle and I just followed on. As always Rumple was right. That's the important thing about being a boss - knowing when to intervene for a better outcome.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14. Day 226. Foaming at the mouth

There is a reason banker rhymes with wanker. I try to avoid all human contact with banks (and let's be honest they try even harder to avoid contact with us mere mortals) but today I had no choice. My neighbour Margaret lives in a world where bank books with a signature in the back are a thing. She does not trust plastic. She certainly does not trust Internet banking. Normally she can just about survive in a cash economy but when your term deposit falls due and you are in hospital there are issues. She was stressing. I went to the Commonwealth Bank to see what could be achieved. Easy, I was told. It can be done over the phone. Except it couldn't. Without a Netbank authorisation number you are not a person. So after a very long wait in a phone queue and an even longer argument with a thoroughly "unhelpful"human I gave up. I was furious. If anything Margaret was more angry especially since she's been banking with the Commonwealth for more than 80 years. Of course upsetting an old lady in hospital didn't seem to bother the bank. Rules are rules even if you are just wanting to put your money from your account into the same account again. Sigh. Tomorrow we try again.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 13. Day 225. Careful, he might hear you

Like just about everyone my age Get Smart was compulsory viewing in my childhood. I didn't know it at the time, but it was my introduction to the genius of Mel Brooks. It was also my introduction to fashion and style thanks to the wonderful Barbara Feldon. Anyway, Get Smart fans will know immediately what I'm talking about when I mention the Cone of Silence. When there was information that should not be overheard Max Smart always insisted the Chief enter the cone. It was always an epic failure. Either everyone could hear or no-one. As often as not they would get stuck in the cone. Anyway, during my visits to my neighbour Margaret in hospital I rather wish I'd had an operational cone. It's as though she thinks the thin curtains between the four beds in the ward absorb all sound. If that's her plan well she "missed it by that much" (another Get Smart reference where that in this context mean a huge margin). She talks about the other patients, their visitors, their ailments, their moods, their showering routine, their meals and even the volume of their televisions as though they somehow can't hear her.
"Would you believe that woman only ate a spoonful of Weetbix this morning," she'll say. But on the upside she's looking well, she's enjoying the attention and she may be allowed home this week. Hospital is treating her well ... and she's loving it (another Get Smart reference).

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 12.Day 224. Have I got a story to tell

Winners are grinners: Karl Stuifzand accepts  Jennifer Blocksidge Memorial Award

 After the final bows of tonight's performance of Breaking The Code at QUT's Gardens Theatre, a most respectable looking lady sitting next to me stood up and unleashed a tirade.
Her F Bomb-laden outburst was about homophobia and how angry she was at the prosecution and persecution of gay people.
It was a quite reasonable response to the story of Alan Turing. While the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game told the story of Turing's work in cracking the Enigma Code this play is about the man.
In many ways it is far more interesting unless you happened to be a Maths nerd which I am most definitely not. Turing was convicted of gross indecency for having sex with a man which set of a chain of events that ultimately lead to his suicide. It was a tragically sad story so beautifully told.  I may or may not have cried (I did.)
Jonathan Blocksidge who presented the award on behalf of the family
Breaking the Code was one of two plays performed by the final year QUT Fine Arts Acting students this month. Half he graduating students performed in Blackrock at La Boite with the remainder in this production. Both finished today and after the production the annual Jennifer Blocksidge Memorial Award was presented. The award is presented to an outstanding final year student and comes with a sizable cheque to be used for personal professional development.  Karl Stuifzand, who played Ricko in Blackrock, took out the prize. In his speech, Karl said that Blackrock and Breaking the Code both tackled important issues that needed to be exposed. His plan is to use his bursary to create theatre that shines a light on issues such as domestic violence, misogyny, racism and homophobia. I can't wait to see what he comes up with. Theatre has a unique power to expose these issues. It can move people (not just me) to tears and in that way change minds, hearts and votes. Here's hoping
You can hear our review of Breaking the Code here
And because you can never get enough theatre talk, the podcast review of Blackrock is here 

Friday, August 11, 2017

August 11. Day 223. Games people play

Friends are precious.
 I don't subscribe to the notion of "absence makes the heart grow fonder".
Nor do I subscribe to the parody version "absence makes the heart go wander".
Distance can test all sorts of relationships but for the most part a good friendship will withstand the test of time.
So it is with Drama Teen and his mate George, who has lived in Sydney for more than two years.
When they get back together the conversation takes off without a lost beat ... I can't say the quality has improved but the flow is maintained.  That's what friends are for

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August 10. Day 222. Beautiful people

Of course I would say journalism is a pretty awesome thing to study. Of course I would say that a degree in journalism can open many doors. I'd be mad if I didn't given my day job. But the truth to me is where I see the people I studied with, the people I have taught and those I have had the pleasure to work with over the years. It's a game of where they are now? Some are in newsrooms. Many are not. Their names pop up in politics, big business, public relations and marketing. They write books, they are in the Creative Industries, in travel, in the charity sector. It's a case of make your own career. One of those whose career has taken her on a path unimaginable not all that long ago is Nikki Parkinson. We worked closely together at the Sunshine Coast Daily. She is now an incredibly successful  professional blogger, author and social media influencer. She is talented, passionate and ever so stylish. But she is also generous with her time in mentoring the journalists of tomorrow. Many will have no particular interest in fashion and style blogging, but Nikki's tips about personal brand building, social media use and self promotion are vital to anyone studying journalism. And she did it all for the price of a latte on almond milk. I had a hot chocolate and managed to get cocoa on my face. That's why she's the style blogger and I'm not.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 9. Day 221. Bird's Eye View

 I feel like I am being watched. There are little beady eyes on me when I leave the house. Actually there are little beady eyes watching me while I am in the house. The birds are not happy. The fly-by restaurant next door is temporarily shut for business what with Margaret in hospital. As a result there was a line-up of butcher birds on the back deck when I ventured upstairs this morning looking expectantly at me. This afternoon when I went to the mailbox it was the magpies. I feel mean but I do not fancy the same level of bird poo around my place as I see at Margaret's. Also, I know the birds are quite capable of feeding themselves and what they catch is doubtless better for them. So glare at me all you want birds, there's no food coming from this side of the fence.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

August 8. Day 220. Bold and Beautiful

I know when I'm not wanted.  This morning the hospital called to say my neighbour Margaret was requesting new batteries for her hearing aids be brought up. I know where they are kept. I have a key. That's easy. However because of #life it was 4pm by the time I arrived. Margaret was most pleased to see me. I was given a detailed - and far too loud - run down of the other patients in the room, a description of everything on the menu and laundry instructions. I helped put in the new batteries and then it was time to leave. No-one or nothing interrupts Margaret's viewing of Bold and the Beautiful. I respect that. Everyone is entitled to at least one guilty TV pleasure. I have many of them but at least Foxtel allows me to rewind and replay the good bits. She was far happier and more settled than when I last saw her and she's giving orders which is a good sign. Unfortunately exactly how long she will be there is unknown. There were no batteries in the hearing aids when the doctor called. Hopefully we'll know more tomorrow.

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7. Day 219. Heading for a fall

 As a child we laughed out loud at the song about the old women stuck in lavatory. It's not so funny if it happens to someone you know and love. My neighbour Margaret had another fall tonight, this time on her way out of the loo. She was able to activate her panic alarm and a paramedic, other neighbours and I found her on the floor. She was distressed. "I thought I'd be there all night," she said.
If the truth be told we've been heading for this fall for some days. Last Thursday she struggled to make it down stairs and in the end had to cancel her hairdressing appointment because there was no way she was going to be able to make it to the salon. I also noticed she was actually wearing the panic alarm something she finds every excuse in the world to avoid. And when I visited this afternoon rather than get up and let me in, she threw the keys out the window so I could let myself in. Her knee was clearly distressing her. After past falls she has insisted she is fine and tried to resist a trip to hospital. Not this time, she practically begged. "I can't go on like this," she said. So hospital it was to be, although that was easier said than done. The paramedic came by car alone and said there was not a single crew available on the South side and there would be a long long wait until there was. That meant either waiting it out of someone negotiating those front steps. We decided on the latter but it was far from easy and took a lot of not very graceful manhandling. But we did it and we waved her off. Let's hope there is some magic that can be worked on that dodgy knee.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 6. Day 218. Winners are grinners

It's nice when you think the most deserving entrants won. Being the judge pretty much ensures you have that luxury. But it's not easy, especially when the quality is universally high (although I suspect the issue would be the same if it was universally crap). It was awesome, too, that there were so many people's bums on sets in the theatre not just for the prize giving but for all the sessions. I couldn't help but wonder how of those who rocked up weren't in some way related to a performer. My guess is  not many and I suspect that's pretty common with most of the one act play circuit. This is a shame. Drama Teen and I frequently bemoan how "safe" many or even most of the programming choices are for theatre companies. They go with tried and true commodities because financially it's the only way to survive. We keep getting Cats because of brand recognition even if everyone with half a brain knows it is crap. In this festival, most took a big risk, big reward strategy. There was a play about a serial killer dismembering the bodies of his child victims. There was a play about a man being handcuffed to a traffic pole in his smalls on his buck's night and one about teens in a cancer ward. Only one title came close to a household name which made the joy of discovery all the sweeter.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

August 5. Day 217. Colour my world

I saw daylight today - just not much off it. It is true I spend a lot of time in the theatre but today was a whole new level. Theatre in the morning? What's the world coming to? What the world is coming to is One Act Play Festival season. This weekend I am the adjudicator for Beenleigh Theatre Festival's offering. Friday night, all day and night Saturday and all day Sunday. This is theatre for whom too much theatre is never enough. I admit I was worried. A Saturday afternoon without an afternoon nap is an impossibility. Having the adjudicator fall asleep in the middle of your play is not a good look. I needn't have worried. The quality of the storytelling was really impressive. Sure festival entries are a mixed bag of colourful characters but that's its joy. And there was a break between the afternoon and evening session which allowed me to take in some fresh air and food and to snap the loris doing the same.

Friday, August 4, 2017

August 4. Day 216. Life without ballet would be pointless

Numerous studies have found that ballet dancers are fitter than footballers or other elite athletes. Both are, when it comes down to it, full contact sports. Only one, however, is graceful and performed in pointes. Try doing that footballers. Would you catch me at a football training session? No you would not. Would you catch me at a ballet rehearsal? As long as no-one expected me to put on Lycra, absolutely. Today I found myself at the Queensland Ballet headquarters were Ballet Academy students and dancers from Collusion, a dance and music ensemble, were rehearsing for a performance as part of the Restrung Festival at the Powerhouse later this month. Under the watchful eye of choreographer Gareth Belling the dancers unwrapped their LED light tubes which will be used in Muscle Memory. The delicate lights had just arrived and rehearsals until this point had used cardboard tubes as prop doubles. I'm reasonably sure with cardboard it would have still looked stunning. Lights just took it to a new level of grace and beauty.  I do not consider myself to be a ballet expert having effectively been expelled from ballet classes at age six because of an extreme lack of coordination. But I know what I like and I liked this a lot. It should something special.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 3. Day 215. Whistle while you work

It's going to be a whole lot quieter around the office from tomorrow. This afternoon we farewelled my QUT journalism colleague Lee who retired after working at the university for 17 years. This will mean an office with far less singing. This will mean an office where no-one whistles. This will mean staff meetings without someone drawing battleships. Those battleships were legendary. The staff meeting battles were often legendary too. The sign "Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean the bastards aren't out to get you" is gone. The place won't be the same. So Lee, you may have retired but we know you are not the retiring type. Enjoy whistling while working on whatever it is you choose to do now.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August 2. Day 214. Lights up

Never a dull moment it the crazy life of me (actually my life is full of dull moments but mostly I try not to write about them). However by both design and accident I seem to encounter crazily creatives. This is not opposites attract, just the opposite. Indeed when you work in a Creative Industries Faculty eventually you more or less stop noticing the more eccentric types wandering about. In other workplaces a young man in a bear onesie with a couple of bags of groceries might fit the description of odd. Where I work it's just another day at the office. And it's not even as though outside work hours I steer clear. Tonight I headed off to Short + Sweet, a festival of micro theatre. These performances might be small in length but they were very big on entertainment value and the creative crazy quotient was off the scale. After a day exposing myself to other people's creativity, I indulged myself just a little on the way home from the Powerhouse. That view of the Story Bridge from the Valley end is one of my favourites. I even put the camera on manual. So creative, right?