Thursday, 27 October 2011

Nothing to report

Life in the Warden household continues apace with a mixture of sports, films, home jobs, meeting with friends and work. D and I have both been putting in fairly long hours in our respective workplaces recently. I always find that life gets quite chaotic at this time of year. Suddenly your 'to-do' list has doubled in size! We are very glad that, on the whole, we both enjoy our work. Evenings (when they've finally arrived) have therefore been quite quiet. We are on the last episode of the first season of Treme. We have so enjoyed this magnificent series. It won't be for everyone but I love it. Last night's penultimate episode was a terrific case in point. There are so many characters, so many incredibly complicated situations but the narrative never feels rushed or over-populated. David Simon et al are geniuses. The only comparable writer I can think of is Charles Dickens. In amazing novels like Our Mutual Friend and even shorter ones like Great Expectations, he manages to keep all his characters and landscapes under control. Simon and friends do likewise.

But other than that there really is nothing to report. Over the next few weeks we have a number of exciting things going on but right now all is quiet. Today has been dominated by grant applications (officially rubbish at them!), my wonderful first years (I told them they were inspiring this morning...and I really meant it) and faffy admin all amidst the swirling rainclouds of the East Midlands.

While things seem to just continue on at the moment I do feel as if I am learning a lot about all sorts of things. It's funny how you can find yourself in those sorts of periods sometimes. As I was walking to work this morning in my trackies (wet trousers are horrid!) I suddenly felt like going on a long hike somewhere in the mountains. I ended up at the LPAC (which isn't really the same thing) but the desire to go a wanderin' did not abate. Perhaps I'll get to go on a little trip this weekend...


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Third Shakespeare in a month

Last night Filer Theatre Company brought their rather crazy version of A Midsummer Night's Dream to the LPAC. It was such fun and even D, who likes his Shakespeare pretty traditional, enjoyed it. Bread fights, blue lycra and musical interludes!

Today has been pretty chilled out. We've been to the bank, done a little shopping and sorted the washing. I'm just about to do a little work while D watches Match of the Day. Currently the dulcet tones of Alex Salmond can be heard chez Warden. It is often pretty difficult to follow Scottish politics in England - the media is unbelievably biased. We enjoy it when Westminster journalists take on Wise Old Owl Salmond. He makes everyone look utterly ridiculous. Anyways...

So, we are halfway through the teaching term. It has gone unbelievably quickly! This week I have been mostly meeting with students, attending meetings, trying to fill in grant applications and finishing my HEA teaching project. On Wednesday night I judged a very high quality house drama competition at Queen Elizabeth High School in Gainsborough. We had a fun night of pirate-related theatricalities. I was amazed at the high quality of submissions.

Anyways, Salmond is getting increasingly passionate ("nae limits fer Scotland") and I am going to crash on with a little work. Looking forward to a restful Sunday tomorrow and then on with another week.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Hot water bottles and woolly hats

So, autumn has arrived. The wind is cold and I wore double jumper layers today. Always glad for hot tea and hot water bottles. Anyways, we had a rather excellent and chilled out weekend, drinking coffee and eating Chinese food with friends, coming third in a quiz, looking at houses (just being nosy) and listening to a couple of great preaches. All in all it was exactly what I needed. This is, rather unbelievably, week 4 which means that we are nearly halfway through teaching for this term. Madness! It is all going well and last night was topped off by our journal reading group where we discussed a guy that actually looks like a cat. Academia!

Tonight I'm finally getting to do a bit of work on a grant application I've been meaning to sort out for a while. And I think an early night might go down well, especially given that I am turning all Simon Cowell tomorrow night as I judge the drama competition at Queen Elizabeth High School, Gainsborough. Last year the standard was remarkably high so I'm looking forward to it. Another relatively quiet weekend in store. I am loving relaxing weekends at the moment. D and I are just spending a lot of time hanging out, watching films, doing household chores and reading stuff.

We are also really enjoying our new box set Treme.  It is set in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina and, as usual for a David Simon/HBO combo it is thought-provoking, challenging and uplifting in equal measure. These HBO series are often a bit bleak and sweary but they provide such a wonderful insight into communities and their issues. Not knowing a great deal about the Hurricane and the devastation it caused, I have really been struck by the unbelievable decisions, oversights and social problems. Unusually for TV, this series does not try to provide easy answers or to romanticise society. Like The Wire it challenges your expectation of television in profoundly disturbing ways.

Other than that it's been work all the way really. Not even watched University Challenge yet as I was at the gym last night while D and his buddy played squash. After a couple of wee frustrations during the day I ran on the treadmill until I could run no further. Exercise is just mega! In total agreement with good ol' Apostle Paul.

Anyways, onwards. Peter Gabriel's super-duper new album New Blood is in the background. I have tea and a hottie. Everything is ready for a couple of quiet hours of grant application. It's at times like this that I feel so unbelievably blessed to have a cosy peaceful house, to know that D is working his way through the Smiths' back catalogue in the other room, and to just feel that everything is working together for good. Ace, huh?

Hope everyone is doing really well.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Capek turning in his grave

So, after a few long days I've finally managed to chop Capek's play RUR down to 20 pages. This was extreme textual vandalism and we are left with a jolly ditty about robots taking over the world. I did a read through with the first years this morning and it all seemed to go rather well considering we were also trying to battle our way through Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition. Pretty hard core for first year!

Things are a little chaotic to be honest. I feel as if I'm running around like a crazy thing and it's only week 3. That said we seem to have happy students and contented faculty teaching teams so that's all that one can ask for really. Today I also found out about the true power of Twitter. Over the weekend I went on a search for a copy of the Times Higher Ed as last week saw the release of the university league tables. Could I find a copy? No I couldn't, and we tried everywhere. I tweeted my disappointment about the lack of magazines in the Lincolnshire area and the lovely folks from THE tweeted back saying that they would send me a copy. It duly arrived this morning. Seriously, Twitter is the best! Cheers to the fab folks at THE.

This week also saw the arrival of two new CDs. The first is a proggy little number from Steven Wilson called Grace for Drowning. It is beautiful, varied and challenging. The second is Peter Gabriel's latest offering New Blood. It is a collection of some of his best songs reimagined by an incredible orchestra. It is a genuinely moving album. I LOVE Pete and this album shows that an old rocker can still have ambition, can still be pushing the boundaries of genre and challenging himself. Terrific.

Anyways, D is going to try and download IOS5 on to my iPad. It took him three hours to update his iphone earlier on today. Here's hoping for a straight forward software update. Apple continue to do Steve Jobs proud even in his sad absence.

Hope everyone is doing really good. We've been watching a lot of Treme this week and I'll post about it properly at some stage soon.

Have a great weekend when it comes.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Autumn arrives

I has rained all day in bonny Lincolnshire and the temperature must have gone down 20 degrees in a week. I wore my cape today for the first time this autumn. Hoping to be able to wear boots and tights next week. I love autumn clothes! We paid a visit to Louth today after a morning game of squash. It's quite a sweet little place and we had a lovely day.

This week I have been very thankful for my Apple products. D and I are total Mac-heads and we were both very sad to hear of Steve Jobs' death. He seemed to be a wonderfully inspiring guy, able to provide techy goods for techy idiots like me. We watched his Stanford commencement speech this week and much of it has remained with me all week. I particularly like his view of death - it means that we have a limited time to accomplish everything. Urgency leads to great things!

Teaching has been fun this week, by and large. I am particularly chuffed with my first years who fully understood semiotics on Thursday morning and even managed to produce some great practical work that explored the ideas. It is really lovely to work with them and I'm looking forward to our version of R.U.R. This week the Times World Uni Rankings came out which was as exciting as election night. Harvard was pipped to the post by Cal Tech, Edinburgh did wonderfully well as always, Aber (my undergraduate institution) was on the long list and there was a good showing from our Pacific North West (Go Dawgs!) and Canuck friends (BC). Lincoln isn't on there quite yet. There were two post-92s on the long list so they proved it is possible to break through. I was talking to a colleague the other day about the amazing progress Lincoln has made in the ten years it has been around. Really outstanding for such a young institution!

Research-wise I have been reading a lot of depressing (in some cases very depressing) plays about Iraq. They are mostly incredibly bleak with startlingly terrible language because, apparently, (and I can't quite believe this) all soldiers are unbelievably foul-mouthed. Ho hum! Some of them, that said, are quite interesting. And they make fascinating contrasts with the 1914 Flecker play Hassan. Boring bit over!

It's Saturday night and I am sorting out my research submissions. D is listening to some terrible, little-known 80s music. Both these things mean that all reality TV passes us by. I'm going to do a little house sorting, read some books, probably challenge D to a PS3 game and drink some more tea. Let me tell you, this is what aspirational twenty-/thirty-somethings do with their Saturday evenings.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Blimey, it's nearly Christmas!

Time seems to be flying by at a startling pace. Not only has it been a week since my last Molemaison post but we are also nearly at the end of week two. Assessments will be here before we know it. This week I have learnt the following things:
1) there are lots of women younger than my Mum who look considerably older. It is a constant source of amazement to me. I am hoping this means I have great genes!
2) when you trust D to do the online Tesco order you get 8 cans of sweetcorn, 12 bottles of Pepsi Max, 16 bottles of water and a tub of Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt for me. The poor Tesco man nearly freaked out when he saw our stairs, the lack of lift and the many bags of heavy groceries. I thought he was going to expire on the stairs.
3) in England folks respond really well to ceilidhs. I was a little sceptical about a ceilidh to celebrate Lincolnshire Day on Saturday but it was great fun if totally baking hot. Everyone danced, food was good and I even got asked to dance by a stranger - yes! Still got it ladies and gents!
4) contemporary plays about Iraq are universally brutal. I need to read a jolly Christopher Fry comedy or something.
5) 'Eat Natural' bars are really addictive and actually aren't that healthy when you eat them so regularly.
6) tea costs nearly fifty pence more at our newly improved LPAC cafe than in the architecture building just across the way.
7) disappointingly, England are a little better than Scotland at rugby. They are certainly dirtier players. Consequently, I realised that in this derby match I was actually cheering for Scotland. Strange! Also realised the rugby union was very boring compared with its Northern, more dynamic cousin, rugby league.
8) the yoga camel pose is really very sore when performed the day after the first squash game of the new term (I lost...miserably).
9) carnations last very well even in a hot room.
10) dance students are much more violent and enthusiastic than drama students when they play the game 'Bang!' as a warm up.

And those are the things I have learnt this week. A mixed bag, huh? Term is going well all in all. It's pretty full on but full of fun. Continuing to send off a load of proposals, papers and reviews. I'll post when decisions come through. I am hopeful! Anyways, I'm off for a cuppa before we watch the first episode of Treme from The Wire guys. The lovely Clarke Peters is starring - it'll be good to see him back on the small screen after watching him tread the boards last week.

Hope everyone is doing really well.