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School is back

Both the private and public schools are back now. School is in full flight and it is only a couple of weeks until the first Semester of university.

This morning I had a mission to find bird transfers for Dad’s front garden makeover. He used the glass from a coffee table top to make a wind screen above his bar-b-que table. I found some transfers at a hardware store after searching high and low in the main shopping centre and finding a hat for school.

The transfers are silhouettes and show a bird cage, some branches and some birds. Dad said it was just perfect and soon applied them to the glass. They look very good as a screen and the magpies seem delighted with them. Magpies relate to black and white patterns, so maybe the black silhouettes are just right for them, too.

My new hat is dark blue in a straw-like material. I had a gift card which covered most of the price and only had to add $5.00 to make up the already reduced price. At school, the hat is useful for playground duty and being out on the oval or going on excursions. So I am feeling more prepared now for my supply teaching work and look forward to having lots of opportunities for wearing the blue hat.

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Planning

Calendars are so useful for planning, especially at this time of year.  There are so many calendars.  State schools and private schools, universities, Queensland and other States, it’s just amazing.

With a calendar, it seems a lot easier to plan ahead.  Even in the face of uncertainty, it’s nice to know which appointments clash, when forms have to be filled in and all the key financial dates for incomings and outgoings.  Birthdays, anniversaries, public holidays and of course Valentine’s Day, are also important.

Routines can help.  I quite like the idea of putting things away as soon as they are finished with.  It helps a lot.  Also, preparing for the basics, like shopping lists, refilling printer ink and petrol in cars regularly and keeping an eye out for bargains.

The year ahead can look busy, but when it is broken down into bite-sized chunks with dates marked on the calendar, things are likely to run a lot more smoothly than last year.  Here’s hoping!

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The wonders of the heat sink

Faced with slightly less hot weather and a still overheating laptop, I decided to make a heat sink.  It is easy enough to do with a fairly flat plate, which is a bit larger than a saucer.  Then I added a freezer block.  I put these next to the part that overheats and turn the plate a quarter turn every now and then.

It seems to take some of the heat out of the laptop and disperses it enough for me to keep working. 

The weather forecast is for fairly warm days with some clouds, so the next week is looking hopeful.  Today is also Australia Day and it has been perfectly sunny and not too hot for going out, playing cricket or just having a quiet day.  The public holiday is tomorrow.

Next week I need to meet my supervisors to see how to tie up the thesis.  Fortunately it is making a lot more sense now, so I hope that I am on the right track.  My reading continues to make sense, so I am taking lots of notes and rewriting, formatting Figures to be clearer than before and checking all my acronyms, references and sentence flow.

It’s nice to be able to work on this, now that the heat sink seems to be working well enough to allow me to keep going.

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Overheating tech

I have a fantastic set of paperbacks that Mum found at garage sales. She told the ladies selling them a bit about me and they chose the ones that they thought I would like.

The one good thing about overheating computers, hot weather and fans is that there is an alternative. I swapped my very slow fan for a much smaller, more powerful one. The laptop is having a rest. Instead of worrying, I started downloading fan regulating apps, using freezer blocks from the fridge in front of the fan and under the laptop. Then I just grappled with the heat, grabbed a paperback and read.

There’s not much use worrying. I needed to immerse myself in some good narrative. Fortunately, there is a lot of that to hand. It makes writing a lot easier. I had taken the back hatch off the laptop and dusted it down a bit. The rest of the screws in it seemed to hold the bigger sections together, so I just dusted and put it back together. For a while, it was OK. Then it was quickly heating up again, so I sat with my books and scholarly articles and did lots of driver updates while reading.

Fueling up on a few well written stories helped a lot. The insight into the Harvard EdX Letters of Paul course also gave me a boost. Then I read that 22,000. + students enrolled and they only had five doctoral students and one Professor. That’s a very popular course! No wonder the internet has been slow when accessing the sites!

Anyway, I am back to organizing my desk, clearing the backlog of filing and making room for teaching equipment and resources. Sometimes, the computer can entrance you if it seems to be the only way to write and read. Fortunately, I have been reading about the importance of the offline activities that make sense of it all. Without the offline links to existing systems, nothing really works.

So today is looking better after some flash storms and rain both yesterday evening and this morning. The soil is softened a bit. Dad is digging out the bamboo and other tree roots from the front yard. Mum is ready to plant some climbing plants that Peter brought her for Christmas. For a while it is cooler and the next few days look a few degrees cooler than the school holidays have been to date. Great weather for gardening, me thinks!

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Walking again

Apart from shopping and tidying up the house, I have missed walking early in the mornings until today when I started again.

It’s a welcome break from study and the activity helps me to feel part of the local community, as I get to see what is going on in the local area.  There’s always the local paper, of course, but that is different.

My research is bringing new material to light on a regular basis, so the picture is being filled in very well.  I have forwarded a draft to my supervisors and Dr Elmer, who agreed to read the thesis.  I have  a lot of work to do in the next few days, but I am sure it will be OK very soon because it makes a lot more sense to me as I read it and put everything in the right places.

Surprisingly, I am still enjoying it, so I work away as best I can while struggling to get away from my desk, walk around, eat properly and take lots of cool water.  The heat of the day is lovely when there is a breeze, so I go looking for breezes as often as possible.

Day by day, I am feeling happier and more secure in the work I am doing, hoping that it will lead in the right direction in the end.

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Thesis and Education

On Friday I talked to Caitlin and Lisa at the university about my thesis submission.  Although my first strategy was to rewrite extensively, based on thesis training with my supervisory team early on, my ongoing research has uncovered a way of working on the submitted thesis which addresses all comments.

I am very surprised that the theoretical area of my research has widened considerably since I first submitted it, so that I can now address issues where there is a substantial body of work on which to draw.  It is a huge relief.  Fortunately, I have been updating my associate supervisor as I uncovered important new work, so everyone has a way of being up to date.

The University of Tasmania did respond a week ago to my request for consideration in the Doctor of Education program.  Just this morning, I read about Gridiron in Tasmania being more organised in 2014, so there might even be a chance of writing and researching from Tasmania and then coming back to Queensland to complete a doctorate.

So now I have to consider contacting the nominated supervisor and letting him know my ability to wander down there to the other end of Australia in a southerly direction. 

I still haven’t contacted Dr Ian Elmer at the ACU, as he has been on leave and the 40 Celsius temperatures did not help me to finalise my thesis any quicker over the Christmas break.  That is still something to consider.  However, the Harvard School of Divinity EdX short course in the Letters of Paul is really interesting, thanks in part to the seminars given by Dr Elmer on the Gospel of Matthew for our parish.

 

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EdX going well

In the last couple of days, I have been exploring the EdX course on the Letters of Paul and found it very interesting.  It uses a lot of online pages, which means that I am forever flicking between screens.  However, that’s not so bad once you get used to it.

The topic is very interesting and has universal appeal for people who relate to that sort of thing, like me.  I am trying to balance my writing activities with more social interactions, so this is a start.

My muscles are a bit sore today from carrying the paddle board halfway up our street yesterday.  I knew this would happen, so I have been careful to stretch when the muscles are warm and move about a bit more gently.  The muscles are at the top of my hips on both sides.  I know all about them now.

Apart from that, I continue to do my early morning reading for my thesis and work on the style and examiners’ comments.  It is slow work to start with, but I am immensely relieved to be able to focus on it for a while.  Perseverance is a difficult thing to learn for such an important task.

In the evening yesterday, Mum went for a very short walk outside in the beautiful breeze.  I tagged along.  Although we have rain clouds and very dark skies during parts of the day, there is not much rain.  The breeze is a different story and we just love it as a change from the much warmer weather we have had this last week or two.

The aim is to go a bit further with her walking each day.  It is important to walk and not just do shopping and gardening, I think.  Walking helps to get the circulation going a lot better without relying on a shopping trolley for support.

Normally the school holidays seem to stretch forever, but this time it seems like school will be starting all too soon.  It is only two weeks until the pupil-free days for professional development start and then it is back to school after the Australia Day holiday on 27th January. 

Perhaps I am looking forward to it more since my recent studies in career development for Education?  Whatever the reason, I hope 2014 will be a better year for students and teachers alike.