The Tunnel at the End of the Light

Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train
Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train

This week has flashed past – and I suspect because I’ve been grafting at a higher than normal rate.  Or at least it seems like I have, perhaps it’s due to the brighter days and the touch of sun we’ve been having as we start to emerge from winter’s embrace?  Frankly though I feel like I could do with weeks about twice as long as they are to get everything I need to do done.  Ah well, we work with what we have, and short of some sort of space-time inverter landing on my doorstep this weekend I guess it’ll have to do.

  • Chapter writing
    • Ongoing, closing in on being done early next week.  At last.  Probably.
  • Teaching
    • Face to Facebook
      • A week looking at the ethics around WikiLeaks and in particular at the Chelsea (Bradley) Manning case.  Interesting topic with some real meat to it I think, especially as it’s one that illuminates a lot of what we’ve previously examined with respect to journalistic freedoms and the role of the press in supporting Western liberal democracies.  Sadly though I think trying to get into the ethics around “Was Bradley Manning/WikiLeaks morally justified in releasing the Iraq & Afghan War Logs?” was a bit much for most of the students.  They had that look on their faces that said “Please Mr Llama, just tell us the answer to this one…”  Not that there is a straight answer to what is a complex question with a hell of lot of multifactoral issues around it – I mean, I certainly have my answer…but I’m not 100% sure my answer is any more valid than their suggestions.
      • Also gave some general feedback on the reflective essays I marked.  No one lynched me so the feedback must have been useful.  Either that or they’ve got voodoo dolls of me somewhere full of pins…
    • Media Communications
      • Click to enbiggen
        Click to enbiggen

        The build up towards the students’ big assessed PR pitch started this week, which meant I rather expected like last time we closed in on the seminar that I’d have a very full class – seeing some faces I’d only seen once before.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  Smallest seminar group yet (6!) which doesn’t bode well for next week when I suspect I’ll be splitting people up into groups…at this rate I’ll be drawing random allocations out of a hat.  Anyway the seminar was a potted version of the assessment (take a product, build a marketing campaign around it) and was actually rather lively.  Not sure I’d class it as fun for the students as they had to pull together a presentation inside of about 40 minutes; but they rose to challenge pretty well.  Hopefully these few will take the lessons to heart in their assessment and produce the higher quality outputs.  I do slightly have a vision of myself as a Simon Cowell like role for this, as I will have to sit in judgement over all the presentations.  Poor sods, I can remember how terrified I was of doing presentations as an undergrad (how times change); but these are media students so perhaps they’ll not have that problem.  We shall see!

      • In terms of group assignments…I think VG Cats this week might have nailed this one.
  • External commitments
    • Heard back from the conference in Vienna, they’ve accepted my paper.  Huzzah…now I need to work out how to fund it.  I’ve discovered via a friend that there’s a small pot of AHRC funding I can call on for overseas events.  This was rather news to me, but good news – it’s controlled by the Graduate School, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised it’s not been well communicated!  I think I may be able to call on all three years worth of it, which means I’ll have covered about 2/3 of the conference costs (Mrs Llama who is better at figures than me pulled together some draft costs for this).  I’ve also spotted a bursary to apply for AND sent a begging letter to my head of dept to see if there’s any local funds as well.  Hopefully one or two of these might contribute from this leaving a massive hole in my finances!  That said, at time of writing I’m waiting for all these various people to get back to me, so doubtless next week I’ll be able to move forward on booking etc.
    • I also got approached to take part in an online briefing at Glyndwr next week about open access.  I think this means my Sunday afternoon is going to be spent researching and preparing for this.  Hope my Internet doesn’t drop out in the middle – as it has occasionally been known to sometimes (thanks BT).  I only picked the brains of some of my old OA chums for info, and they were all most splendidly forthcoming.  Fingers crossed I don’t arse this one up!  (See students, I DO still get performance anxiety!)
    • Also another nibble from elsewhere about a talk, said yes and doubtless it’ll evolve over the coming weeks into something.  So nice to get asked, and it does help me to continue to up my game and presentation stylings.
  • Training
    • Got a notification of a session on The Lecture as Performance to my staff in box.  Sounded rather good, and it’s only a couple of hours towards the end of the month so signed up for it.  Mentioned it to some of my students who queried why I, of all people, needed training in lecture performance (I think that’s stylistic praise, rather than marking me as an OTT theatrical lecturer).  Frankly one can always learn a few more tricks, I answered, not to mention if my other currently pending conference workshop comes off I’ll benefit from drawing on some of the ideas in this session I suspect.  Interestingly I think this’ll be the first local NTU training event I’ve gone to (other than research seminars which I guess don’t quite count).  Might be nice to meet some other lecturers as peers for a change.
  • Conferences
    • Need to start drafting my UKSG talk next week.  Only three weeks away really, so can’t leave this much longer – unless I want to just go freestyle with it…nah, that’s a terrible terrible idea.
  • Blog design
    • I think it’s time I changed this blog’s template…don’t think it’s helping readability much.  Might have a tinker over the weekend to see if i can’t find something that looks a bit sharper.
Say his name
Say his name

For the record, this week’s writing, studying and teaching preparation has been accompanied by the Breaking Bad Spotify soundtrack.  I’m almost to the end of BB now, and feeling a strong desire to go back and watch it all over again from the beginning.  So nice when something you’ve heard raved about by others turns out to be as breathtakingly good as you hoped it might be.  Unlike say Fortitude 😉

Oh and I’ve started playing Elite: Dangerous (under the handle Cmdr Llordllama naturally).  I currently suck so badly at this it is unreal…hoping to get slightly better over the coming weeks and especially when Mrs Llama heads off on her long overseas trip next month (to the land of llamas!).  Apparently nudging a hair trigger on your flightstick inside an orbital dock is severely frowned on my sector security forces…


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