Saturday, 27 February 2021

 Orientation Week - Or Panic Week

So O Week - Freshers Week, Rush etc - is over and classes start tomorrow. 

Reflecting on the past two months, I have spent way too many hours online.  I wonder if others have walked as many circles as I have?

Textbooks.  In total I reckon have spent 30 hours.  Seeking second hand ones, comparing prices of new ones and trying to gain the system by using the library options (borrow, download, read online).  However several new editions have been released and thus some of my cheapie-get-ahead-of-the-crowd books purchased in October last year are now out of date.  

Buying - can buy in a variety of places but seems that the uni textbook store is every student's go to..quite a few are in a panic because the bookstore has sold out. Suckers. When I bought mine and there were loads left so I'm going to assume some people left it REALLY late. 

Libraries - libraries haven't processed the new editions. When will lecturers learn that it takes libraries some time to process new books.  

Download - sometimes you can get the whole book, apparently, I haven't seen any evidence of this but such a button exists on entries. However, you can get some chapters BUT the download system was arcane=I struggled with it for about 5 hours one day. I tried again last week--now it's much easier.  Why it should've changed over the holidays I have no idea, but it pisses me off and seems particularly personal. Patience - not a trait I possess - is key. 

Read online - that seems to be straightforward but I cannot sit for hours reading online.  

And that's just the start. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Newbie to Law School - ADMISSION = QTAC

Well you would think with 30 years of university experience that I would be well informed about university administration.  I am not. Neither are many of my colleagues.  So I'm flying blind into a new degree.  

So let's start at the beginning. QTAC (Qld Tertiary Admissions Centre).  All online, very easy to follow.  Simply put in all my qualifications - some of the degree paperwork is pretty moth-eaten.  Strange fact - my old employer wouldn't provide a letter of employment with dates. But I did get a statement of some sorts that satisfied QTAC. I also applied for grants that I wasn't suitable for and QTAC email came through almost immediately asking for some paperwork that wasn't relevant.  

QTAC staff know what they're doing; they are courteous and kind. The hours are generous; I like to contact early in the AM before CS folks get too irritated (that word looks weird). But that's just me projecting.  I tried both online and phone chats--seamless success. Staff, IT personnel/website creators 👍.

As I've got a few degrees and too much life experience, I could skip to the start of the Law Line and I get some credit points.  So within a few days I received an offer.

Now comes the tricky bit. As I'm used to OLD terminology I accepted the "offer".  Little did I realise (ie read properly) that I had to press an "Enrol"ment button.  It was large and green but somehow I am green-large blind.  

I received a phone call from QUT - lovely ones welcoming me BTW - checking my enrolment.  I told them I'd accepted and blithely ignored the semantic difference.  

Late one night - with drinks imbibed - I logged into QTAC to check on something.  I realised I'd been locked out a while back because of poor password memory (PPM) when I successfully logged in this time - see how helpful some alcohol can be - my green-large blindness was cured.  

I enrolled at 1:10 am Christmas Eve.  I was massively panicked - was I too late?  Luckily, my place was still available.  And luckily I didn't delve too far into the admin labyrinth that is enrolling in a modern university...😕😕😕😕

Monday, 27 July 2020

My Favourite Co-Vid TV

Hi friends - after many chats, I thought it's probably easier to list my favourite tv view for Covid.  Now those of you who know me, know I love a documentary.  And that I don't like sci-fi; fantasy type shows.  With some exceptions -- and I'm going to look for the entire Buffy series, cos I've never had the time to watch. 

Abducted in Plain Sight. Man some people are dumb. This doco shows two of the most naive parents in the entire history of mankind.  How they let their neighbour take over their family and especially to control one of their daughters is unbelievable - if you can watch this without yelling at the screen "ARE YOU KIDDING?" then you are a better person than I. Fascinating (if frustrating) story that just breaks your heart.
Monty Python - Almost the Truth (Netflix) - lots of chat with the surviving members that shed light on their personalities and the conflicts.
The Great Hack.  Story of political control aka "rigging" via exploring the Cambridge Analytica scandal.  If you think you know how invasive the internet is then you don't need this;  but if you really want to know what Zuckerberg and crew are up to then watch this.  I reckon the female knew more than she was letting on.  I'm going to watch again.  I need to get my mind around it and now I know why I don't have my location on and rarely use FB, Instagram, Twitter and the whole sorry mess of a place where we exist simply to provide information for companies to utilise. The main question - we will ever have a truly democratic election ever ever ever again?
Don't F***k with Cats.  A group  of internet "nerds" track down a murderer via the internet.  It's compelling, just like Catfish was...and if you haven't seen the original Catfish doco (not the TV show) then get to it.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.  I don't know who I despise the most, him or his pimp (I'm not even going to type her name, disgusting piece of trash she is).  It's a story of political corruption and the powers that kept this piece of .... surviving in the world. You almost cannot believe it.  And I hate conspiracy theories. So luckily he's dead and therefore cannot get out because of a buddy or be excused by some understanding judge.  He added nothing to our world and it's a better place without him.  This documentary should be watched by all parents with children - and they targetted "troubled" teens.  Sick bastards.  But it's a fascinating show to demonstrate that evil comes in all sorts.  Man I really would have thought that having a female around would mean that everything is ok. 
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez.  The social welfare system totally missed the boat on this and poor Gabriel died because of the confusion between the various government departments.  Police, teachers, social workers all let him down. He was kept in a cupboard for crying out loud. I can't imagine living in a cupboard.  Makes you realise that you have to be prepared to speak up if you think something's wrong.
Athlete A. If you haven't heard about the gymnastic doctor, Larry Nassar then you must watch this. He violated girls (yes, they are often girls) in his surgery, while their parents were in the room.  He put himself between them and the patient. He did this to hundreds of females AFTER police and Olympic committee (?USA Gymnastics) received complaints.  Again, he (like Epstein) survived because someone ignored the "complaints" - Stephen Penny of USA Gymnastics did next to nothing. And thus Nassar had more time to damage more young girls. Another of this world's despicable persons.
The Confession Killer. Henry Lee Lucas is one strange dude. In the 1980s, he confessed to over 300 (?the number keeps changing) murders when he was arrested.  Did he do that many murders or was something else going on? The thing I remember is that one person said that he smelt.  He had about 4 teeth and smoked all day -- I'll bet he stank! Plenty of twists and turns.
Making a murderer. Second Season. Started out slow but picked up quickly. The twists and turns...I mean -- was he guilty? 
Keepers. Dead nun and a threatening priest.  No doubt why she was "removed".  Great doco if you're not sick of hearing about catholic church and abuse. Hubby was not a fan.
Cheers.  I couldn't give a rat's arse about cheerleaders.  But I was hella bored so thought I'd give it a go.  Yep, it's a great doco.  The amount of work they put into it is scary--and loved the males. 
Tell Me Who I Am.  Twins - one brother loses his entire memory.  All of it.  So the other brother give him all the memories he needs.   Or does he?  It's a simply shot but moving much would you want to know about your past?
Tiger King - Listen to the podcast first ; this is the story of a slightly strange group of people who love wild cats.  Was murder committed? Arson? Drugs? Yet this has it all including a gay, blonde, mulleted central character.
Conversations with a Killer: Ted Bundy Tapes.  I know he existed but knew little about him and his crimes.  Death penalty is a difficult topic - but if ever anyone deserved old sparky, Bundy did.  He seems to have been beyond rehabilitation - he had it all good-looking (sorta), smart-ish (not as smart as he thought he was), educated, no history of family abuse, or head trauma - or at least that's what we "know". Yet his brain was warped - the manner and frequency of his crimes is shocking.  The world is a better place without him. 

Mystery Type
Mindhunter (Netflix) - story of FBI dudes who started the whole profiling thing.  They interviewed every "serial" killer they could in order to understand the mind of the killer.  It's a great series.  Great acting..

General Drama
The Good Fight. Season 4--too short, damn you covid.  I love this series. At first I ignored The Good Wife (I mean why would I watch a show with that title) but once I started...loved it.  And The Good Fight just got better and better.  This season with its imagining of a female president...Loved it so much. So disappointed it was 1/2 its projected run. 
Safe - Harlan Corban - US and UK actors.  Missing teen -  unearthing secrets.  Lots of twists.  Easy to watch series with plenty to keep you guessing.
The Stranger - Harlan Corban -US and UK. Someone knows too much about people.  Intimate secrets.  She approaches people and whispers their worst secrets in their ears and starts a domino effect of anger and rage.
Morning Show (Apple TV) - best ever series so far this year.  I generally don't like Jennifer Aniston, but she is fantastic in this role. 
Hollywood - beautifully realised -- and as imaginative as the place itself.  Can you imagine a film with a black lead actor becoming a hit in the 1940s?  No neither can I. But still it's all great tv. 
Desperate Housewives - you gotta love Gabby's one liners. I forgot how funny it was. And yes, Teri Hatcher is annoying.  But you can put it on while you do cooking, cleaning, housework, play your favourite computer game.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Munich and Budapest

Hi All,
Yes this posting is way overdue.  I'll add pictures later.  This morning Bill and I are chilling in our fab apartment in Budapest.

Okay from the top.  We finished our volunteering and then we trained to Munich.  We had several hours in Munich and decided to visit the Xmas markets which are supposed to be some of the best.  Well it was the wrong time to go to the markets.  Saturday night it was packed;  and it appears that the alcohol had been flowing freely. 

We witnessed a fight and so thought we'd better avoid the central part.  Walked back to the train station and had great dark wheat German beer and dinner.  Yum.

The train left at 23:20 - so we were snuggled in and asleep by 23:25.  Don't know what happened in the world outside but I woke a couple of times and NO snow.  I had hoped we might cross some alp-type product.  But it doesn't appear that we did.  The conductor gave us a great wee breakfast (coffee and hot tea/coffee).  Then we were in Budapest.

It was bitterly cold here when we landed.  But we had rugged up.  We met with our Air BNB host and she let us drop our luggage off early. Thank goodness. 

So we went exploring--she seemed bemused that we walked all the way (?) from the train station.  Anyway, the apartment is super central and just right for us.  Old building renovated to a very high standard.  Most important for me: the washing machine. 

We pack so frugally that we need to wash once a week and that's not always possible.  Strange thing about travelling, learning different detergents.  Anyway Oxy-Action products are very expensive. 

We have traversed the city and throughly enjoy walking and looking at the architecture...that keeps us busy every day.  We've done a Danube cruise and visited quite a few churches and ummm beer places.  If you follow Bill on FB you will see what I mean. 

The Christmas Markets are loads of fun but do get crowded at night.  The night lights are fantastic. The Jewish quarter is where all the best bars are (ruin-bars especially).  What is a ruin bar, you ask? It's exactly what it appears to be - a ramshackle collection of small bars in an "alley".  Eclectic furniture.  Perhaps more fun before we tourists ruined (yuk yuk) it for the locals.  It's supposed to be one of the best bars in the world...hmmm.

Anyway, it's time for bed.  More tomorrow perhaps?  Depends, there's so much to do, who has time for writing????

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Diverbo Fun

Hi Everyone--
I'm on a break - just after my radio interview (ABC Overnights with Trevor Chappell), this month we read The Moon's a Balloon.  Remember the David Niven biography that was a best seller in the 1970s?  No -- well, read it.  It's a good laugh, a bit pompous and lots of fun.  You'll finish it in a couple of days, I promise.

Anyway -- we had 1.5 days in Frankfurt.  The airport at Berlin (TXL) -- well that was strange.  I'll do a Berlin/Frankfurt catch up post in a couple of days.

Here we are volunteering.  The students are German and they're here to improve their conversational English.  They are not allowed to speak German and so the days are long and difficult for them.  But they say their English is really benefitting for them.  A lot of the "students" are trying to improve their job prospects and some are improving themselves so they can be more valuable to their companies.  We work with them one on one (some people seem to find this a vaguely sexual phrase--hmmmm).  And I think the pressure to constantly thing in another language would give me a migraine.

In return for our hours of "work", we are given free accommodation and free food.  It's a pretty good deal I think.  The food is great.  And the place where we are staying is very nice INDEED.  I think we will definitely do this again.  They have schools in Spain and Germany.  Some of the volunteers here have done it many, many times.

It snowed the other day! But only for a brief while.  I loved it and was then immediately disappointed when the snow disappeared.  But at least it rained.

Each day is filled with activities -- from 8am until 10pm.  We do have a break from about 2-4.  In my 1-1 with students, I walk (as many do) around the countryside.  There's a forest behind us and a farm across the road.  So plenty of space to stretch our legs while our poor students converse with us.

We are here until Friday.  The internet is much better than we'd been told and so I'm writing this during a break.  Dinner is in one hour.

Speaking of which - food is pretty fantastic (repeating myself).  German offerings -- schnitzels are amazing.  I am eating way too much and after lunch (salad, salmon pasta, ice cream) I felt a bit queasy,  so I usually grab a granny nap.

Anyway love to everyone and please take care we are thinking of you during the horrible fires...

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Lasst sie nach Berlin kommen

And now we’re in Berlin.  

We’ve booked at great hotel Hotel Kastanienhof— it’s in the "communist" side (aka East Berlin) - of course now it's difficult to tell them apart.  The street we're in as a great bohemian vibe.  The shops (especially the clothes ones) offer something different--Australia is all big box stores (lets be honest) and so I love scrounging around in different places.  

Everyone will tell you Berlin is big and it doesn't really have a 'centre' - cos there's nothing left of an "old town".  So it's a collection of biggish areas.  We tried to cover as much as we could first day but as it was raining today we gave up and caught a hop-on hop-off bus.  Yes we know it's the most touristy thing to do but it gives a great overview of a place.  Hey BTW, Big Bus Berlin - your online ordering system sucks.  

It was great fun - we grabbed the top deck front two seats so we got to careen around corners and almost smash our faces when the driver hit the breaks.  But the best part -- an American woman,  She sat beside the commentary guide and helped fill him in any silence. For example
"This area was a park where I played and had family bbqs in the 1980s and now it's been developed"
"I guess there was a problem with the developers"
"Um, well, like any city there was discussion..."
"And what did you do in the park again?"
"BBQs and played ..."
"Played with other people"
"Umm well family I guess"
"Your family?"
Then she and her husband had a loud and complex discussion about whether they should get off at a certain stop.  Bill and I were deliciously amused.  And felt smug as we remembered our Bose headphones and could actually hear what the guide (and her interjections) was saying.  

The drivers here are killers.  Gone is the Danish politeness to the biking community.  And they clearly don’t have a rule for “wait til pedestrians finish crossing”.  But you gotta love Ampelmann (the traffic light dude) -- read this CNN article for the whole story.

We noticed in London earlier this year all sorts of traffic light men--so I'll write up something on them when I have time.  Meanwhile, I'm thinking Brisbane could do with something a little more fun in its lights.  

Tomorrow I’m just going to do some shopping. The whole WW2  thing is just too sad and too damn big for me. We’ve visited Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It's soo big and so many - six million. It's overwhelming and so freaking overwhelming - I just cannot comprehend it or people.  

It's just past the Brandenburgh Gate--we were there with the striking famers.  The city was at a virtual standstill --- honking horns, pissed off drivers and even more pissed off farmers.  Before Bill and Toni

After Bill and Toni

We felt like Forest Gump - everywhere we go lately something big is happening. Remember, we were just in Hong Kong. 

Toilets - why do I have to pay 50c each time I go to a toilet - even in a shop / shopping centre.  What’s that about? 

Okay it's time to go to sleep.  Tomorrow is another day....

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Strange / weird things in Copenhagen

So it's our last day in Copenhagen and I'm reflecting on some of the strange things we've encountered.

First - traffic lights - for some reason, the Danes have nailed the crossing timing.  Every time we get to a set of lights, they change within a few seconds.  It seems that it's not just me but it's a new "intelligent" traffic light system.  Now come on world, if the Danes can do it - everyone can.

Second - baby prams.  So everyone bikes everywhere.  What I didn't realise is that people here love their prams -- riding ones and pushing ones.  They all seem to come in twos too.  I don't know about the Dane's fertility but rarely do you see a single pram.  Not saying they are twins but clearly they're not mucking around with this one-child business.
Speaking of which - babies are everywhere.  And everyone pushes them from mummies to grandparents -- lots of grandparents. And they seem to like it. Even when the bubs are left outside, in their prams, in the cold.    Shakes head.  This New Zealand woman found it weird too.

Third - cleaning products.  I can't seem to find the same ones I usually use.  I like to use a little bleach in the shower (for mould) well I went to several stores and they were sold out.  So either the Danes are really clean or there's a world wide shortage of bleach.  EEkk. At our apartment, I was scrounging and opened a bottle of something and immediately took a big sniff--that's a dangerous thing to do.  Don't do it.

Fourth - TV.  I have never seen so many romance movies airing.  Yes it's the time of year for Jule Christmas Romance movies.  There are usually about 4 each night on telly here.  They are the crappiest, cheeziest, Hallmark movies you can imagine.  The Danes are romantics at heart.  
Auction tv shows -- while Australia continues its love affair with renovation television shows, and America still loves a desperate housewife, it's all about the auction here.  We can't understand a word of them but in various guises people guess what things are valued at and them compete in various ways.  We're crap at guessing prices.  It seems the the more tortured the piece of porcelain the more it fetches.  

Fifth - Food and Drink.  Sweets-yes the Danes LOVE their sweeta (I mean lollies); they are second only to Finland (really? see this article) at 8.51 kilos per head per year.  Every corner has a 'candy' shop that's filled with gummy type chewy lollies.  I love them.  My figure doesn't.  One of the reasons that Danes, with the highest "happiness" rating, don't live the longest.  There's a lesson in that, right?

Coffee - okay it's a national sport here. They are the second biggest spenders at over 3 euros per cup in the world (see here). (Swiss rank #1). Drink as much as you can.  I'm not a great fan -- I hate that coffee breath that heavy drinkers get.  

Bread - while we might know that dark-rye-nut laden bread used in open sandwiches-we've discovered a bread/croissant type bun.  

Oh - it's 2pm.  Time for Glogg.  I will write about glogg but not right now. It's drinking time.

Time for some old Toni Travel Tips?