Delightful evening tonight with a friend and colleague from UQ - another Monash expat. Didn't start well with my car making the strangest noises and clunks which steadily increased, resolving in a high-pitched whine and my alternator light registering on the dash. I limped my way to Helen's place and called the RACQ, who were marvellous. They called me when they arrived (so I could go inside and be sociable) and discovered that the problem was a broken fanbelt. They fitted a new one and I was able to drive home perfectly normally at the end of the night. But once the car was fixed anyway it was lovely being among fellow single women academics of Brisbane, enjoying smoked salmon and salad and a glass of crisp champagne (my first glass of alcohol for nearly a month). Thankyou to Helen and friends!
Since last August it's been possible to go to one of 1200 Starbucks coffee stores around the US and get WiFi (wireless internet) access using your own laptop or personal data assistant. The company offering the WiFi service, T-Mobile, was charging US$40 a month for unlimited WiFi access, and CNET are reporting that the company has now reduced that price down to $30 a month and $6 for a 'day pass'.
Speculation has it that the reduction in charges is aligned with the slow return on WiFi infrastructure investment. Read: T-Mobile could be having financial difficulties. If you have shares, I'd sell now if I were you.
The Brisbane Graduate School of Business has just installed WiFi access to our floor. I sure hope our investment pays off.
ABC Online are reporting that John Howard and Richard Alston have returned the A$10,000 wide screen plasma screens 'loaned' to them by Telstra. So they ought to do. With all the conflict arising from the golden handshakes coming out of the finance sector at the moment - most particularly the disastrous performance of AMP Board Members - it would be exceedingly poor taste for the Prime Minister and Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts to accept such an extravagant perk.
A colleague has just announced his resignation from the Brisbane Graduate School of Business here at QUT. I wish him very well of course, and it's a great opportunity for him, but strangely I feel a little disoriented and concerned about the loss of this staff member. Perhaps it's just the changes in my own life at present which keep rising up before me, but I keep having a vision of a long, blank tunnel before me, stretching on and on, with no escape. Not fun.
After a post on my livejournal on the changes to the social dynamic of the world of blogging, I'm beginning to wonder if I should write a book of my own on the subject? If there are publishers out there interested in the idea I'd be prepared to produce a marketable text on the subject (ie: not too theoretical, probably a good resource for communication students) fairly quickly. All I'd need is a contract. Any interest out there?
As the Matrix films draw closer, Samsung has announced the release of the Matrix Phone. Very cool. Very expensive. Totally absurd, but then, what merchandising isn't absurd? Needless to say I won't be buying one, but will be happy to drool over one if someone I know buys one.
If you happen to be reading this as one of my present, past or future students/colleagues, you are most welcome to post comments, either in response to a post or just to say 'hi'. It's lovely to hear from my old Monash and Swinburne students as well as my colleagues from those institutions, and it's also great to hear from present and potential students/colleagues. I may not get back to you all individually, but please know that I appreciate your willingness to support this site as well as your willingness to contribute ideas.
/. is running an article on the growth of the *verb* to 'google' as identified by the WordSpy site at http://www.wordspy.com/words/google.asp as the most useful word of 2002. Interestingly, Google has initiated litigation against the owner of Word Spy (Paul McFedries) to force him to remove all unauthorised use of the word on his site. However, Frank Abate, a journalist and dictionary editor, writing for the American Dialects Society Mailing list has argued that the case against McFedries is flawed because under US law, Google can't protect use of the word as a verb.
Now here's my question: does Australian law allow companies to protect the rights for use of their trademarks when used in the form of a verb? I can see great opportunities for marketing organisations to (mis) use this legal loophole if this is the case.
Apparently filming of Hogwarts Express for the next Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban, has caused a fire in the Scottish Highlands. Wizard News is reporting that though filming has resumed after a short break, there were concerns the fires could reignite. Even more weirdly, Wizard News is reporting that young girls are now looking to strong witches such as Hermione as a role model. *blink* Well so long as girls follow Hermione's lead and work very hard, study a lot, be generous and caring to one's friends and hold their heads high in the face of predjudice, then I guess this is a good thing. Hope they don't think they're going to be able to levitate anything, though.
The ACCC announced late last week that they were going to conduct an enquiry into interconnection fees for internet service provision. Background to the enquiry is available by clicking here, and the grounds for anti-competitive behaviour on the part of the larger ISPs seems the focus of this enquiry. I'm glad this enquiry has been initiated, but I'm concerned as to the efficacy of the enquiry announced. The Terms of Reference are really very vague and there is apparently no time line for reporting, nor any real sense of the power of the ACCC to change any oligopolistic practices. This all comes at a time when the Australian Communications Industry Forum is hosting a conference which is investigating internet peering (very procedural details here). All these enquiries and investigations are admirable, and I'm not criticising them. I just wish I were confident that the outcome of these investigations was going to be valuable to producing an equitable and competitive environment for internet communications services and applications here in Australia.
The world is full of generous, caring, beautiful people. I am privileged to know a great many, and I just want to say a special thankyou to two such people here today. Thankyou to Stephen Lister and to Marcus Lee for their friendship their caring words, and for reminding me there is graciousness and beauty in this world. You're both wonderful people who deserve great joy, and I am very lucky to have met you. Thankyou for your kindness and your comfort. I owe you so much.
Weekend was good. Thanks to Liz, I saw Star Trek: Nemesis on Saturday night (I'm suck a geekgrrl). Wasn't as bad as everyone has been saying - wasn't great by any means, and probably a good 40 minutes too long given the complexity of the story line, but nice eye-candy. Also was good to catch up with Creepy at Jazz in the Afternoon per courtesy of Borders Bookstore. Creepy's work on the Fan Flick, Star Wars: Broken Allegiance, has culminated in the release of the DVD - this is great stuff, Creepy. I'm proud of you. Hope Rick Berman enjoyed the show!
This week I'm arranging my conference papers for the remainder of the year and trying to organise time for a trip to Port Douglas and another to Sydney. I'm also trying to work out when people are coming to Brisbane. I already have the long weekend in June booked up at my place for the old GWHS girls - looking forward to having you here!!! Then I'm trying to work out when/how to buy a house around August this year, and how exactly I'll manage moving.
I need a desk calendar.
Okay had to post this up here because the facial I had was superb. It began with a 10 minute back massage and followed up with cleansing, toning, treatment and then all sorts of other stuff (sorry the technical terms are lost on me when either law or technology isn't involved), then whilst the treatment was going on I had this lovely scalp, arm and hand massage and when it was all done, I barely recognised myself. My skin was all smooth and non-wrinkly. Plus I ended up getting a little pack with all these wonderful milks and treatments and creams at the end of the facial - FANTASTIC!!!!
Of course my hair was a mess at the end of it and I had to walk around without any makeup, so ended up getting a wash and blow dry to make the hair look half decent and buying some mascara and lipstick for the face. But I do feel wonderful. I know this is all terribly girly of me, but it's so lovely to feel pampered. Thankyou Brissie Girls!!! Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou so much!
I'm booked in for a facial today.
This will be the first facial I've had in ages. And the last few I've had were with the lovely Lou and Van in Melbourne when we sat at home, packed mud on our faces, drank red wine through a straw (because we couldn't move a muscle under the mud packs), and watched the Kenneth Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing or one of the filmic adaptions of the Austin books, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma etc. Very girly, but a lot of fun.
This facial will be a tad more professional ;-) and is a present from Liz and Melissa - and is much appreciated guys!
Today is as busy as yesterday wasn't.
Now I'm off to another meeting. *waves*
So today ended up being a hell of a lot better than I thought it was going to be.
First of all I get an email from work which basically cancels most of the appointments I had made for the day. I figure it might be best to just work from home today instead, while the trades people were coming through. The fan continued to run in the background - goodness it was noisy - but when I had a call from the Real Estate Agents saying that if I had left it on all night then the carpet cleaners would be through today, suddenly it all seemed worthwhile. Now I just have to wait for tomorrow for the (now clean and relaid) carpet to dry out (after the clean) and my furniture can be replaced.
I also had the chance to catch up with friends online in South America and in New Zealand during the day - *hugs to Robin, Lou and Van*. And I had coffee with friends, Tracey and Lachlan, in the afternoon. *Hugs and thanks* guys - was great to see you and just catch up.
I still had some work to do, and some crises to resolve for work, but it has all worked out pretty well. And dinner was yum.
It's 6am and I'm avoiding having breakfast for the simple fact that there's an enormous industrial fan at the entrance to my kitchen. I planned to turn the thing off overnight but didn't, in the hopes that I can get rid of the thing sooner. This is, of course, one of the legacies of the flood in my apartment, to which I returned after my stint in Melbourne. I have to run this fan for a total of 24 hours *underneath* the carpet in my dining area, so that the underlay is completely dry before the carpets are cleaned. As I walk down the hall the carpet lifts up into a bubble. Weird. And noisy. But the good news is that I can shower at home as the hot water service was replaced yesterday afternoon.
Still .. suppose I ought to go have breakfast. It's another arduous day ahead. Seems to be a lot of those stretching ahead of me.
Well I'm back from my week in Melbourne and have had an odd welcome home. Details of this 'welcome' are in my extended entry (below).
As for Melbourne - I'm glad I went. I really needed the time away to clear my head, and while some discoveries I made while down there made me feel worse about what happened two weeks ago, I feel better prepared to face the daily routine henceforth in Brisbane. To my Mum I want to say a BIG thankyou - you have been my rock, and my guide. Don't know what I'd do without you, Mum. Thankyou for your love, your kindness and your enduring support. Thankyou also to my brother and his partner for their visit (however brief!) and to all the other people who provided support and comfort while I was there - my godmother, Heather, my friends, Kristen, Michelle and Winsome, and all the others who sent messages and their love (particularly Van and Lou - you have been so wonderful - thankyou).
Now to face the future on my own.
And the 'welcome' home???
As soon as I got to the airport in Melbourne I was dismayed to see every desk of the Virgin checkin open but queues of hundreds of people spilling out almost as far as the international terminal. I waited an hour in that queue, only to have my flight called to an express queue when I was three from the front of the normal queues. Then once checked in, I made my way to the gate lounge to receive the announcement that my plane was running over an hour late. When we finally got on to the flight and landed in Brisbane, I received my luggage and then waited in another queue of 50 people for a taxi.
Then when I arrived home I was met with the terrible stench of wet carpet as my hot water service had sprung a leak in my absence and flooded my dining area. I have had the owner and the Real Estate agents around this morning and there's the possibility I will be without hot water for a couple of days if a new system needs to be installed. I don't really want to go across town to have a shower, but it looks like my only option at present.
So that was my welcome home.
Well I've been in Melbourne for 4 days now and have been kept very busy doing absolutely no work, but still somehow managing to fill up every moment. It's been good being with Mum, having some company and having a change of scene. And even the weather has been fairly kind (much to the chagrin of Victorians who are simply praying for rain - everything looks so brown).
I attended the free Melbourne Symphony concert in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl last night, and very much enjoyed the performance. There were a few errors here and there, but the event was free and the sound was good, so you can't really complain. Cathy Freeman (Australian sprinter) was wheeled in as a guest conductor for a little fluff piece and she proved that she not only had no ability in music, but that she doesn't even have the theatricality to fake it. Sorry Cathy - you're a great runner and a wonderful ambassador for indigenous Australia but you frankly suck at public performance. We love you dearly, and it was still good to see you last night, but really only as a sportswoman. Don't give up your day job - ever. More importantly, I was amused to listen to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and pick out all the bits that John Williams has plagiarised in the development of his Star Wars soundtracks. The man is either a pathological plagiarist or is delusional if he thinks his works are original. Or perhaps Lucas just played Williams a tape of the kind of music he wanted from each scene and Williams just managed to emulate it all a little too closely. Between Mussorgsky, Saint-Saens, Holst and a few others, you can pretty much pull together the whole Star Wars soundtracks.
I also finished the novella of Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, last night. Interesting melange of styles. It seems to rest somewhere in between William Gibson and Douglas Rushkoff. Not sure it's as good as the extraordinary array of celebrity endorsements would have you believe (see the downloadable e-text at http://www.craphound.com/down/), but I did find it engaging.
Thanks to all those continuing to send vibes and good wishes my way. It is helping. And it has to get me through tomorrow (Valentine's Day), so it's still appreciated.
Finally I just want to send a special hug to Stephen. Hope the site is working again soon and that your work is going well.
I'm heading down south for the next week where I hope to regain some strength and mend a rather battered soul. All good vibes appreciated.
See you in a week.
Thanks to Craig Liddell at australia.internet.com for the link to the article in which I am quoted. For anyone interested, the article focuses on the impact of broadcasting reform on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as is accessible by clicking here.
Just wanted to post a big thankyou to all those people who have been sending me good wishes these past few days. It's very much appreciated. I'm looking forward to my time in Melbourne next week and hope the future will hold many positive possibilities. This is a difficult time for me - much more difficult than I had ever expected - but I promise you that my professional life will not be affected by my personal state. And in time - hopefully not too long - I will be back to my usual irascible, if not irrepressible, self.
Importantly, it's your messages and your care that have really touched me. Family, friends, students, colleagues and even readers of my published works have sent the most gratifying messages of comfort. It's really quite humbling to have received so much support and care. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart. I feel incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people sending good vibes my way.
I will be at work all week this week, hoping to get most of the administrative tasks I need to have completed for the next fortnight. I have decided rather suddenly to fly to Melbourne for a week's leave from the 9th of February. I need some time to get through the end of my relationship and look to a future alone. My work will sustain me but I just need a few days to take care of me. No matter how prepared I was for this eventuality, no words can express the depth of my grief.