Monthly Archives: March 2010

Day 222- March 31, 2010

Could not be bothered with the gym. I am getting horribly lazy, and will have to resolve to go more often soon, or there won’t be any point to my sports membership at all! Methinks I shall go on the morrow… But today, I slept in, which was good.

Since I didn’t go to the gym, and my Policy lecture wasn’t running this week, today was a very short day. However, since my only class was a two-hour Russian tute, it seemed like a very long day. It seemed to me as if the tutor didn’t have very much material to work with, as he seemed to be trying to stretch whatever content he had to cover out to fill the two hours. We also had to do delightful exercises, such as Putting In The Right Preposition, to form inspiring sentences such as “I know what you did in Saransk”. Funny, I thought that what happens in Saransk, stays in Saransk. And that the first rule of Saransk is: Don’t talk about Saransk. (And countless other idiotic things Julia and I came up with to amuse ourselves).

I came home to Mum making wafer cake for Easter and took some shots of the creamy caramel-y filling in the mixer and her grating chocolate to go on top (Today’s Photo). We watched Inspector Rex with subtitles (obviously) and the sound off and listened to John Lennon. Good combination.

Day 221- March 30, 2010

Mm nothing beats Russian in the morning. The “compelling story line” (actual quote from the textbook blurb) has moved from Ivan being unable to find the train station to Ivan and Ludmilla visiting an old woman for some reason (she sounded old on the recording) and the shock revelation that Ivan is a millionaire businessman from Saransk, a town (as the textbook helpfully informs us) which is noted for its production of electric light bulbs. Meg and I are determined to find innuendo in the book and are now convinced that the old woman’s husband is having an affair (off to “lunch”, indeed!).

Next came the weekly Over-Enthusiastic-Research-Methods-Guest-Lecture Hour, featuring intermittent interruptions from the heavily German-accented lecturer. Actually, that’s not completely right– the lecture goes for one and a half hours (sigh). Today’s Guest Lunatic was a very excited researcher from RMIT, who waxed lyrical on the wonders of a data analysis software program called NVIVO (invented, of course, by a friend of hers). This technological white knight (well, aren’t I just full of idioms today!) was contrasted with “the bad old days” of having to colour-code interview transcripts with pencils according to themes, stack the transcripts in demographically-based piles whenever you wanted to compare, say, men to women; and (the old favourite) having homicidal tendencies towards one’s cat when it knocks over said demographically-based piles of colour-codes transcripts. This woman also gestured wildly the whole time, waving her arms about like a mad woman and swinging her head around so violently that it seemed in danger of detatching from her body.

The tute for the subject was no better, being an exercise in using this marvelous NVIVO program. Marvelous it may be, but not when does not know how to use it. Less marvelous still (it’s BYO adjectives tonight– I’ve run out) is when the tutor who is supposed to be instructing in the use of said software also has very little idea of how to use it. And matters are further complicated when the sample interview transcription with which one is meant to be practicing is a formatting nightmare of textboxes and tables (which, conveniently for all, cannot be selected once imported into NVIVO). O Joy of Joys! Well, eventually I worked it out. And the assignment’s done. Good riddance!

In between the lecture and the tute, I had a three-hour break, which I spent with Jackie (Charlotte, the other member of the Tuesday Afternoon Lunch Club, or TALC, being at home with a case of food poisoning that she somehow contracted from a blueberry muffin). Being bored with the university and its open, windy spaces, we went to the city for coffee at Hell’s (or whatever the downstairs bit is called). I made her drink coffee, because it is my firm belief that one is not actually a person if they do not drink coffee. It was coffee flavoured with condensed milk (a Saigon), but coffee nonetheless! We then ventured to the lolly shop in Lygon St, where photography was regrettably not permitted, so that Jackie could buy her lunch, which consisted mainly of chocolate-covered banana lollies. A health freak, that girl.

Before heading home to a delicious dinner of homemade soup and vegetable samosas from Costco (which were actually really really good and will be consumed for lunch tomorrow), I had my final class, which was a Psych lecture on sleep disorders. To satisfy today’s irony quota, I naturally fell asleep. I woke up to having missed half the lecture and found that I drooled on my tshirt. Charming. To detract from that less-than-attractive image, Today’s Photo is of a butterfly that I saw while en route to the Psych lecture. Sure beats the previous contender: a photo of Jackie eating an apple.

Day 220- March 29, 2010

Woo. I had today off. It’s not holidays yet (we only get one week for the Easter break, but about five weeks for the semester break), but I don’t have Psych tutes on odd-numbered weeks, and for some reason, there aren’t any Policy lectures this week. So I decided not to go in for gym and Yoga, and instead get some work done for once. But first Nick came over to practise some of the music for the Easter service on Sunday. He brought his kids, complete with their anatomically-correct German toy animals, and we sang bizarre things in Russian.

Continuing with things of a bizarre and Russian nature, I went to my grandma’s to drop off Maxim. Mum and Lena were there making kulichii, which are a type of Russian “cake” traditionally eaten during Easter. It’s a yeasty sort of creature that’s baked in long tins, rises to form a cylindrical shape with a curved top, and is then decorated with icing and shiny sugar beads. When I got there, they were mixing the dough and zesting lemons/oranges for flavour. Today’s Photo is the old, handwritten kulich recipe, written God knows how long ago. Totally a cultural item! I also liked this old book— the Russian reads “Book of Delicious and Healthy Food”. I also took a photo of this paper cutout thing— completely unrelated and even more completely awesome.

And then I came home and worked on my assignment. It wasn’t pretty, let me tell you, my droogs, but I managed to get through it (or, at least all the bits that we don’t do in the class), which is real horrorshow. I appear to have slipped into Alex DeLarge for some reason, and I make absolutely no appy-polly-loggies. It’s more interesting than ending the post abruptly otherwise, especially considering the most exciting part of the remainder of the day was making apples in syrup. Oh, but we have an abrupt end. How ironic.

ESTRAGON: Well, shall we go?

VLADIMIR: Yes, let’s go.

[they do not move]

Day 219- March 28, 2010

Eugh. Research Methods assignment. It’s short. It should be simple. Just read two articles, write about the approach they’ve taken and the methods they’ve used, some other stuff, only a thousand words. Easy, right? Uh, no. Once you’re done reading about environmental policy in the Netherlands (which is exactly as boring as it sounds), you have to figure out exactly what they’re trying to say (I tune out whenever anybody mentions Foucault) and then whether the epistemological standpoint of the article is constructivism or subjectivism. The way I solved the last problem was: knowing that the research methodology was discourse analysis, I Googled “discourse analysis constructivism” and “discourse analysis subjectivism”. The former had about ten times as many results, so it must be right!

So, yeah. I would say that a good portion of the day was devoted to attempting to get onto that assignment. What a bore. I’m taking the day off (i.e. wagging one lecture, given I don’t have a Psych tute on odd numbered weeks), so hopefully I can get the first two parts of that done (the third is done in class on Tuesday). The only other interesting thing to happen today was an email telling me that some of my photos will be published in Audio Technology Magazine. Somebody found the photos I had taken of the live music rally and wanted to use some for an article he was writing. So I’ll receive a copy of the magazine in the mail soon. Until now, you can see the photos in the magazine preview here (skip to page four). And because I couldn’t take a photo of any of those things, Today’s Photo is of a stove coffee pot. Do I need a reason?

Day 218- March 27, 2010

I’ve had quite a few musical-related photos recently. So today isn’t one of those, but rather a post-musical photo, taken at a cafe in Ivanhoe that we went to. It’s all over by the way– tonight was Closing Night. So no more photos from rehearsals (not that I had that many, but I had a few of amplifiers or something boring like that). And I decided not to make that photo of people throwing popcorn at Josiah Today’s Photo (the one where you can see the popcorn he’s been eating in his mouth and it’s revolting). I trust this will be a great relief for him.

I’ll skip over most of the day, because it mainly just involved work (and some degree of bewilderment concerning my pay, but that’s another story). Our story begins at approximately 7.30pm, when the musical began. There’s a section in the overture, in which a single-bar motif (the one that appears in Heaven On Their Minds and The 39 Lashes) is repeated for 19 bars before the horns and organ come in. I normally watch the conductor to cue me for the next section, but he lost count and had to guess where we were. So then he cued us for the next section and we came in at the wrong time, which was greatly confusing for the dancers. Oh dear. But they managed to catch up. Or whatever.

It was quite a good production for closing night. Everybody seemed pretty pumped (especially Andrew, who decided that he was Very Rock and stood up to take his solo), and we kind of went wild during The Crucifixion (which is, essentially, free improvisation). Then, during the bows (a reprise of Superstar), we kept playing at the end after being cut off. Very celebratory. Just jamming on the one chord (E major, if you’re interested, although I threw in a 7 and a flat 9). Very good fun.

After the clean up and throwing popcorn at Josiah, we went to Stokers, a nocturnal pancake place near the school. But it was pretty full (and the barrista looked hopeless), so we went to another place. Alack, they weren’t even serving coffee! But we couldn’t be bothered going anywhere else, so I begrudgingly enjoyed a glass of soda water. I had some cake, but it was pretty gross. Should have gone with the lemon tart…

Needless to say, we did not immediately go home, but had a Nighttime Carpark Conversation, featuring copious amounts of Bill Bailey and Dylan Moran quotes, and some dancing to Rick Astley. How bizarre. But I’m home now, and that’s all that matters (because I got coffee here). And oh God my wrist is sore. There’s something very chiropractically unhealthy about playing two keyboards at very different heights (a piano and a synthesizer), especially when the latter is about shoulder height. Argh.

Day 217- March 26, 2010

Another musical-related photo! It’s the second-last I can do it, so it’s very acceptable. Obviously I didn’t take it (photo credit: Di Thomas), as you can see me in it (back right), but it still totally counts because she took it with my camera.

Woke up, vacuumed the house, read about interviewing techniques, wrote my review for the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra album and started on my Research Methods assignment. That’s preeeeeeeeeeetty much all I did. Then the musical. Short post. I make no apologies. Now go and look at Wondermark.

Day 216- March 25, 2010

There’s nothing like a vigorous political discussion to start off the morning and wake you up. It’s like jogging, but less sweaty (except, maybe, during Question Time). The only annoying part is when the topic moves to a discussion that I know NOTHING ABOUT and one with which everybody else seems intimately familiar. Take, for example, the recent Rudd-Abbott debate. Completely missed it. Argh. How ignorant of me. Oh well. I kept strategic silence until something that I knew about came up again (or, at the very least, something I could fake convincingly).

I decided to skip All Manner of Physical Activity today and concentrate instead on more lofty pursuits, being mainly Russian homework and making a start on the review I have to write for the new Public Opinion Afro Orchestra album. I also made some lesson plans for Saturday, being an exam revision week. Fun. But at least reviewing was fun. Because it involves listening to music. And listening to music is fun (if the music is good). Hopefully, I’ll get that done soon. Because I think they’re expecting it by the end of the week. Yikes!

Then, Russian, in which we indicated the proximity (or lack thereof) of our respective houses to various prominent landmarks (the pub, the zoo, the casino… all excellent Russian nouns). A Psych lecture followed, being in the Public Lecture Theatre, which, owing to its horrible lighting, never fails to make me drowsy. To add insult to injury, the topic of the lecture was sleep, and the lecturer describes many different types of sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Then Aretha poked me awake. And back to beta brain waves, just like the lecturer said.

Home, dinner and (owing to my unwillingness to listen to the sage advice of my parents regarding Leaving Early) a decent walk from my car to the hall. Mm parking. Well, a lesson has been learned and I will be there early on Friday night. Saturday too! My plan was to get Di to take a photo of the band with my camera when she was taking one with hers. Unfortunately, I missed the band photo (owing to a level crossing, several inopportune red lights and aforementioned parking situation) and had to make do with Today’s Photo being of the set. The band is at the back behind the curtain (and the large, heavy crucifix), the structure in the middle is a scaffolding platform with two towers on the side, and the two stenciled designs are of (left to right) the Star of David and Caesar. Now that you’ve seen the set, come see the show!