50/50 of 2020

Today I’m celebrating that 2020 is half over. It’s been an accursed year, starting with bushfires, and traversing coronavirus, race-based violence overseas and closer to home, an international recession, and massive challenges in the higher education sector. And here in Australia we’ve only just passed midwinter, so the weather feels as bleak as the nightly news. It makes it hard to want to get out of bed and do the voluntary stuff that you know makes you feel better–going for a walk, writing. So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. “WordPress Wednesday” time is blocked out on my calendar each week. And each week, I move it down, around, and eventually delete it in favour of other projects.

This is life in the time or corona. Plans are not things that are easily followed. Every Facebook memory reminds you of happy times, travelling and visiting people. Incidentally, this time of year is usually PopCAANZ season, so there are a lot of (academic) travel memories at the moment!

Since I last posted, a few things have happened. I spoke to the local St John’s Ambulance division about working with patients on the Autism spectrum. Which I probably should have written about on our autism blog. I’ve been working from home, and working on the home, and stressing over looming changes in the higher education sector, which might have been good fodder for this blog, a la my previous post that included musings on painting and productivity. And the book Ros and I have been working on for ages went through its final corrections and was published, which we’ll no doubt soon mention over on our shared blog.

Gratuitous Plug

Which prompted me to reconsider the messiness of my writing life, such as it is, up until now.

Earlier in the year I was visiting friends in Victoria (back when we could do that without fear of being quarantined or fined). I was chatting with a tech-savvy teen and wishing I could somehow link all the blogs, without having to move them. And we came to the conclusion that it might not be as big a deal as it felt in my Gen-X mind.

So this week, I ponied up and set up a new website, which will serve as a launch pad for all three blogs, as well as housing an online shop where you can purchase any of my publications, as well as Ros’ first book. (I’ve been “fostering” her copies since she up and left the country!)

It kind of feels like turning over a new leaf for the new financial year.

Here’s to a less messy second half of the year. We could all use the restart.

End of Autumn

So Winter has officially  started this week in the Southern Hemisphere –with some force, I might add–and this week also marks the end of the Autumn semester at UOW. Side note — it really is the end of “Autumn Semester,” because from 2020 we are apparently retiring the term and going with the more numerical “Semester 1” and “Semester 2.”

Blackheath June 2019.jpg
Leichhardt St, Blackheath – one block from where I grew up. In 1983 we were on the Channel 10 news for playing in the snow like this on the way to school, at this exact location. (Which now makes me wonder what on earth our parents were thinking, sending us to school in conditions like these!). Photo credit: The Blue Mountains Gazette (online).

To mark the (almost)-end of the semester, we’re running various feel-good options at campuses this week. And we’ve been around the traps long enough to know what students like: free food!

free food
No name tags required; all welcome.

It’s been pretty cold up in Moss Vale, so the campus has been supplying students with warming home-made soups all week. Campus Manager Stephen and Admin Assistant Erin have added making hearty soups to their busy schedules this week.


In the Shoalhaven, we went for a winter BBQ, with a special cake to mark the end of some students’ degrees. Big thanks to Heidi and the team at Cafe on Campus for their efforts.

Best of luck to all of our students as they put the final touches to their assignments, and start serious exam preparation. Remember, if you are a UOW student but live near a regional campus (Moss Vale, Nowra, Batemans Bay or Bega), you are welcome to use our facilities and resources when you’re studying. We know that studying at home alone can be both isolating and distracting, but you don’t have to go it alone: utilise the options on your doorstep.

And to my own children: both the above messages apply to you, too.

Just a little bit further, folks!






University is always an adventure …

It’s the most wonderful time of the (academic) year … O-week! A new batch of students are hitting our campuses, juggling feelings of excitement, trepidation and occasionally, downright confusion.

This year I’m feeling particularly old, since my youngest is among those being “Orientated” at my alma mater (and current employer).  His older sister is also there, busy representing (and recruiting for) the Law Students Society and UOW Cheer. She was snapped by one of the photographers at Tuesday’s festivities.

Jamie at O-week
So casual.

That afternoon, the new enrollee and a couple of his mates headed off to the UOW: Wollongong Pool Party, hosted by UniActive.

pool party
Apparently he’s in there somewhere.

On the regional campuses, we don’t achieve quite this scale. We have had some orientation and “immersion” activities this week, but we won’t get the market stall vibe until “W” (Welcome) Week in a fortnight. Sidenote: if you’re in the Shoalhaven and you’d like to have a stall, let the campus manager know. We are looking to build our community days throughout the year.

Life at my desk is somewhat less exciting than marquees and inflatable floating unicorns, but nevertheless there is still quite a lot going on. In an attempt to get on top of competing book / work / fellowship / strategy deadlines, I’ve enrolled in an online short course that promises to help me organise my academic life. It is one of a series of courses run by Dr Cathy Mazak from the University of Puerto Rico. I’ve also joined her Academic Women’s Writing Collective. This has kept me–well, if not on track, then at least within sight of it. For the past several months, I hop online with other female academics twice a week, we mute our machines and get writing. Lately I’ve been doing a lot more reading and note-taking than actual typing, but I’m hoping to rectify that tomorrow. I also have an Accountability Partner because it’s embarrassing to say out loud to another human: “These were my goals this week and I met none of them,” but I seem to be able to have that interior monologue just fine.

This time last week I was sitting in an all day training session, learning about Advance HE’s academic fellowship program. So while putting the finishing touches to my probation (tenure) application related to this role, I’ll also be completing some quite strenuous writing tasks about educational leadership which will be necessary if I ever want to go for promotion. As crazy as it is to be doing both at the same time, I am hopeful that they will feed into each other.

And so, like many of our undergraduate and postgraduate students, I find myself frantically trying to get organised this week, before semester kicks off in earnest. To all of us: Good Luck. And to all our students, new and returning: a very warm welcome. May it be an adventure.





This little corner of cyberspace came about after I went on a rather lovely holiday, and had the time and inclination to write about my adventures and share them via social media–which reminded me that I actually like to write.

This is essentially a personal blog, but will have a regional/South Coast (NSW) focus, because that’s where I live and work. I may sometimes link to my two existing academic blogs, Shapeshifters in Popular Culture and Autism Spectrum Disorders in Higher Education, both of which have been hanging in a kind of frozen stasis not  unlike Agent Scully in those pod things (yes, there will be lots of geeky pop culture references), because I’ve been focused on my day job, and writing in order to publish, not perish.

And on that note, opinions are my own.