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OK, so one of the things I actually do enjoy about this helljob is, weirdly enough, the annual early-January bit where I have to register sportspeople extra-early so that they're all legit to play in various national tournaments. In practice, because nasty socio-cultural implications, this means registering rugby players. I've done them all this year myself, because the faculty admin melt-down has precluded sufficient advance warning to arrange a formal session with multiple advisors - this has been OK, they've trickled in over several days and it's been manageable. But I have to record the following points in re registering rugby players.

  1. Shoulders. Like, solid wall of shoulders. These dudes are built.
  2. They are, as always, extra-sweet and extra-polite, I have never been called "ma'am" more often in a short space of time. I attribute this variously to team player spirit, ruthless coaching etiquette, reactionary private school training, and strict Afrikaans upbringings.
  3. Approximately two-thirds of them arrive for paper-based registration without a writing implement of any sort. Apparently ball-handling skills are incompatible with pen ownership.
  4. Why the fuck am I only registering rugby players (well, one lone badminton iconoclast), and all men? I know why the fuck, it's because gendered sports values and cultural assumptions and resource inequalities and what have you, exacerbated by the fact that the privileging of rugby as a national sport means that it's the only one that starts its tournament activities this early, but dammit. I should be registering swim team ladies with the arm muscles, and svelte gymnasts and rowers, and soccer players of all gender stripes. There's more to sportsball than rugby. I will have some equal opportunity aesthetic appreciation of athletes. Dammit. Because this job has few enough consolations, let's face it.

Next week we embark upon a full faculty admin review, which will enable me to gently craft for the review board suitably epic snarky gems of management-undermining, couched for maximum destructive effect under the guise of sweetly reasonable concern. I am bizarrely looking forward to this. The job crisis is making me vindictive in a way that's alien to my base nature but weirdly freeing.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011 01:39 pm
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It's been a horribly busy week, full of stress and angst. (Exam results came out yesterday. Can you tell?). Saturday was another bloody migraine, fortunately prevented by Judicious Drugs from reaching the throwing-up stage, but rife with nausea and aura and the need to lie flat for several hours instead of attending bakercourt's wedding, an omission about which I am still gnashing my teeth. I'm still all pale and headachey and migraine-hungover, and even without that still tire incredibly easily, which means I'm boot-strapping my way through running today's multiple year-end progression checking training sessions via judicious application of chocolate, Earl Grey and energy drinks, and snarling at the last-minutenesses of students. (Couldn't find V, am desolated to report that Spike tastes worse than Red Bull, and has left a thin film of metallic ick over my teeth, as though I've been slugging mercury).

However! Let us die or be upbeat! By way of retaining such remnants of sanity and positive thought as are left to me, I record for posterity the various random validations which have been vouchsafed to me over the last couple of days.
  1. In the Department of Self-Indulgent Piano Noodling, spent a happy half hour on Sunday haxOring the correct chords to Paul McCartney's "No More Lonely Nights", which I don't think I've actually heard since the 8Os, but which is, once you've listened to it four times on YouTube and uttered little shrieks of enlightenment at the chord changes, actually a rather lovely tune. That man wrote ridiculously catchy music, which I generally can't hear without thinking about the Hitch-Hiker's Guide bit about happy, lilting, tuneful songs, and Paul McCartney, if he'd written them, wondering what to buy with the proceeds, and thinking probably Essex. Also, power ballads on piano are indecent amounts of florid, sumptuous fun to play.
  2. Skyrim, while absorbing and beautiful and addictive, is also ridiculously crashy. When I tried, this morning, to get in my designated half-hour of play before rushing off to work, it had developed, overnight, a perfectly new and spontaneous bug which crashed it instantly the moment I tried to load a saved game. Any saved game. Aargh. This caused much chewing of the furniture and a small, doomladen cloud of blue curse words, followed by ten minutes on Google. The gathered wisdom of the ancients (i.e. geeky types in the last two weeks) prompted me to updated my DirectX (was unnecessary, have the up-to-date version), update my graphics card drivers (needed new version, but didn't fix problem), and then reboot, whereupon the crash problem was no more. I love doing that. However minor a victory it is, it fills me with feelings of instrumentality and competence and geeky joy.
  3. After this morning's training jaunt, in which I was probably lucid and coherent until the last fifteen minutes, the Deputy Dean sent me a joyously unprompted little email congratulating me on an excellent session and my "gift for presenting complex material in a lucid and succinct fashion". He cced it to the Dean. I feel like a smug kitty who's just been scratched on precisely the right spot behind the ears. *purrs*. Also, if they only knew how much of my "gift for presenting complex material in a lucid and succinct fashion" is the direct result of DMing complicated rpg systems like Rolemaster and briefing DMs for tournament modules, they'd ... well, probably be very confused. And surprised. And oddly less approving.
Gosh, that was a good exercise, I have validated myself into a much better mood. To round it off, have a gratuitous and wonderful chunk of Middleman fanfic, written with absolute authenticity and deliriously Middlesque language by the unpronounceable Javier Grillo-Marxuach himself, and notable for its ability to solve one of the most perplexing issues of our day, namely how to phonetically render the noise made by the TARDIS taking off. Fudgety-Bow-Wow, Dubbie!
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I am home! words cannot express my joy. Kindly imagine me hobbling around in a pained but ecstatic circle dance, with gestures of relief and freedom. I have Earl Grey, I have a real computer with proper screen and keyboard, I have my kitties sitting off in the middle distance looking bored and unimpressed, which is their traditional response to me being away for any length of time. I also have my amazing mother, who has arrived for her mid-year holiday only to have to divide her time between assisting me to hobble around the house, and scritching Todal behind the ears. (Todal got bitten quite badly by some unspecified fiend-creature while I was away, and has a bald patch and umpteen stitches in her back, and a cone around her head which precludes her accessing her own itchy spots. The level of medical malfunction in this house currently is a bit scary. On the upside, Toad is making up for a lot of Hobbit-bullying by virtue of the fact that he's scared of her cone and runs away like a big wimp when she approaches. I fancy she's enjoying this.)

Apparently I can expect six months on warfarin (no wild diet changes, no anti-inflammatories, no more than a glass of wine a day), another month or so before this leg stops hurting, and a recovery period of up to a couple of weeks before I cease feebly wibbling to the point where I can venture back to work. This means that I leave the Faculty in the lurch in the first week of term, which is a change of curriculum period and one of the busiest of my year, full of responsibility for complicated advisor timetables, and infinite student queries. There are very few back-up systems to replace my several quite unique functions at this time, so it's going to be salutary for all of us, and will hopefully allow me to implement a campaign to rationalise and support some of the more exhausting requirements of this job in future. I am also pleased to report a really quite surprisingly low level of guilt at the whole leaving-them-in-the-lurch bit. This kind of drastic body-she-is-scratched thing happens to me because I'm exhausted and run-down, and the job is to blame for a lot of that.

Anyway. Languishing in hospital chatting to my mother in the last couple of days has resulted in an extremely happy-making random revelation, which I shall proceed to share in the interests of geek cred. Rampant atheism, skepticism and a hearty dislike of Tom Cruise have given me a serious loathing for weird cults in general and Scientology in particular, but this may also be genetic. It causes me untold joy to learn that my grandfather, my mother's father, was on the Board of Censors for Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, and he was apparently instrumental in having Scientology banned from the country. That was obviously reversed at some stage, the church is active in Zim now, but they booted old L. Ron the hell out in the 60s. My mother remembers my grandfather bringing home huge piles of info on Scientology to read through, and that he hated the cult with quite a passionate hatred and worked very hard to have it banned. I love this. It's a lovely bit of family history worthy of innocent pride. My grandfather was a difficult, introverted man, but he was a sturdy rationalist and could clearly kick butt when required to.

Obligatory Reverse Inside-Out Australia Blog photograph: Sydney was prone to really beautiful clouds.

non-blue Monday

Monday, 8 March 2010 08:31 am
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Is it unpleasantly vindictive that I'm wandering around this morning occasionally punching the air and shouting "Yes!" because Avatar (ritual ptooey) didn't win the Best Picture or Best Director Oscars? Despite, may I add, a lot of media speculation that it would pull in at least one of them? It didn't even sweep the technical categories, although I don't really begrudge it the Art Direction and Visual Effects ones, those were pretty much a lock.

I know that the Oscars are a bit of a joke and not ultimately about real quality, but still they indicate what a lot of people are thinking, and thus my misanthropic lack of faith in human nature and cultural wossname is at least partially ameliorated. I haven't seen The Hurt Locker and probably won't, it's not my kind of movie at all, but it sounds like an infinitely more worthy thing to receive accolades. Also, I hope Katherine Bigelow rubs her ex-hubby's nose unmercifully in her victory, it might make him think twice about his script next time.

Now I have a wonderful mental image of James Cameron having his nose rubbed in a saucer of blue milk. I'm not sure, but he may have whiskers for the occasion.

Non-blue Monday is also non-blue because, while I'm sinusy and still a bit sniffly about my dad, Cape Town gave me a lovely thunderstorm with actual rain last night, as a relief from the bloody heatwave which has rendered the weekend hideous. I'm back at work today, but generally feeling a lot more human.

I haven't kept a dream diary for a while because they've been uniformly dull, but they seem to be taking off again, suggesting that worry about ill family members is a bit paralysing to the imagination. Last night I dreamed I was part of a group of about fifty people, most of them friends of mine, hiding out in an underground complex in the woods which turned out to be an alien spacecraft which we needed to activate in order to escape the apolcalypse. (There's always an apocalypse). We were constructing unspecified things from bits of furniture and arguing about how many people would fit. The spacecraft's AI was embodied in a robotic mouse which had befriended one of the younger members of the group. I woke up as we were setting off on an expedition through the woods, fighting off orcs and bugbears at intervals and being rescued by flocks of birds sent by the spacecraft.
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Wheee! I'd forgotten that the new couches were being delivered this morning, causing me to arrive home after a bloody annoying day to the sudden happiness of furniture acquisition and the contemplation of a future of comfort reading in the best sense of the word, unmarred by a sore butt. They're two- and three-seater versions of Ilana from here... big, and floofy, like the mattresses in the marshes of Squornshellous Zeta, and they make the living room look smaller and infinitely more cuddly. The old couches - the Evil Landlord's horrible beige sleeper couch, and my self-renovated two-seater of Granite Butt Creation +10, whose basic inutility was unredeemed even by my mother's l33t upholstering job - were put outside the front gate, to vanish within approximately four and a half minutes, precariously tied to the top of someone's car. Recyle Economy R Us. I approve.

The cats are variously oblivious to, intrigued by and afraid of the new acquisitions. I'd say it'll take about another forty-five minutes before the goldfish attention span kicks in and they start sharpening their claws on the lovely new surfaces. Feliway, I say meaningfully to myself. Feliway.

I'm going to pick a book from the Shelf Of Unread Reproach, and curl up on a new sofa for a while. Well, damn.


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