Sunday, April 13, 2008


Later than I meant..

I meant to post a picture of this new bag of mine in Fair Trade Fortnight as it is a Fair Trade Doy bag. It is made of woven strips from used drinks cartons. Follow the link and you can see far more of the designs and patterns. I chose this one because I really liked the colour combinations of the woven strips- and this shape is really useful for shopping and stuff- as you can see the handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, there is a strap to close it with and it is pretty waterproof too. It's nice to be able to feel virtuous about buying a new bag!

Sadly not all my recent purchases are as virtuous. Today I bought a very expensive teeshirt by Paul Smith- which they describe as a 'Black & White jersey t shirt with trompe l'oeil waistcoat print'. It even has a little strap on the back like a real waistcoat.. I cannot pretend that this is in any way good for society and it was way too much for a teeshirt but it is very cute.. see?

Clearly I do not look quite like this in it and I do not have a chandelier to pose by but it is still something I am looking forward to wearing as soon as I get the right moment!

That right moment may well come next week when we are sneaking a long weekend with our friends in Lezignan-Corbieres, assuming Ryanair do their thing.. this is part of a campaign to begin looking for a house out there, cunningly timed to begin as the pound collapses against the Euro. Maybe we can get a shed or something anyway. We went to see our friends in their house there last summer and then borrowed it for Christmas. It is a very relaxing place to be and right now the idea of even two days to relax feels amazingly important! I posted a picture of the Motorcyclist relaxing there a few posts ago but here's another pic from the same trip to remind us all that there is sometimes good weather to enjoy.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Events and Excitements
As I said in the post below, I'm trying to do some research work today. In theory the whole day is blocked out in the diary but of course because I'm at work various people are popping in.. This week in theory should have been one with lots of time for reflection and scholarship but in practice it has been very busy with other stuff. I have helped with table plans for a big function we have next week, and with the processional order (sorting out civic precedence is challenging but probably not why I thought I was doing the PhD etc..) I've written to a local resident about parking problems, discussed plastic chairs with a local head and signed someone's passport photo. So what's my point ( apart from a quick bit of self-pity that I haven't been able to focus more on the impending conference paper)?

One thing is that the intellectual demands of a job do not link in a neat and tidy way to its seniority.. being in charge of the Bearpit is easily the most senior job I've had but I think that teaching sociolinguistics to some very demanding teachers on a diploma in year 1 of my HE teaching career was a lot more stretching intellectually. This job is demanding but it is more about making connections and facilitation of others, about being rather than doing at times.. I do enjoy it (most of the time) but also find myself pondering this paradox more and more often as the years go by.

The other thing that all this makes me reflect on is how far the advice of time management experts can ever help. I've been reading and enjoying this blog about Zen approaches to life for a while now and it has lots of good calming stuff about putting the big things first and not doing too many things at once. I have been trying to follow some of the advice but of course real life doesn't work that way. Helping our events team decide on tablecloth colours is hardly one of my big goals in life but if I don't prioritise it they can't get on.. and although I may have more 'important' things to do than check out the latest interesting French property site the Motorcyclist has found, if I don't go and look I am valuing my time over his in a way I can't be comfortable with.. much of the advice re Zen seems to me to take a self-focused, almost selfish approach to the rest of the world and whilst I am sure I too often allow myself to be distracted by the needs of others, I can't help thinking that is not entirely a bad thing.. what do you think?

More about the French project later. With pictures. Sorry the last few posts have not been illustrated!

First Monday again
I can't believe it is now April. Feels like only a week or so ago I was writing the last post. Today I'm catching up with First Monday again as I prepare for a paper I have to give soon. I have only skimmed this article but it seems to me to make some really good points about the so-called Web2.0 phenomenon. I have been trying to square the recent assumptions that we didn't do interactive social stuff on the web until Web2.0 came along with my own experience and having trouble.. I had begun to think my memory was playing tricks. Don't get me wrong- life is much easier with Blogger and its ilk than in the days when we had to use Dreamweaver and had our own websites, and of course the comment facilities make a difference, but it is more a progression than a revolution, which seems to be one point that Scholz is making. What he says about commerce is also interesting- we can use these technologies for all kinds of reasons, from flashmobs with a point like the one at Heathrow, or like the surreal and entertaining things DrJoolz finds on YouTube, to buying and selling on E-Bay. We are doing stuff we have always done, whether we are into social change, entertainment or rank capitalism- it's just a bit easier now to share it with others and to reach a global audience very quickly. Or am I missing something?

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