Thursday, September 10, 2009

My life lately

I know a lot of people who read this blog are on Facebook and keep up with my doings via my updates there but there are some who have yet to get into the social networking sites and so might be wondering, especially given the craziness of my Saturday night post just what's been happening. So here's a bit of a personal update.

Early in August I began some tutoring work at University of Qld, well the tutorials began then but there had been some work to do before the tutes plus I was also to give two lectures in the same course so I also set down the basics for the lectures as I knew I was to be doing a second job in August as well.

That second job is with the Griffith University branch of the NTEU. As with most universities collective bargaining is underway at Griffith. When I say underway, management has been stalling for a long time. At UQ, management has been downright obstructionist. Anyway, so to break the impasse, we've moved to industrial action. It seems that management is quite happy to sit on its backsides wasting time for months on end. The only way to get them to budge is by the members taking action.

So I was asked to come back to Griffith NTEU branch to work with the full time organiser assisting her mobilising the troops for action. Under the current industrial relations system, for any industrial action to be considered 'protected', i.e. the bosses can't sue the pants off you or worse for doing it, it has to meet certain conditions. First off a secret ballot of memebrs must be held, supervised by the Australian Electoral Commission. It's a postal ballot and on the ballot are listed a variety of possible actions, including stoppages of various durations. Members vote yes or no to each and only those actions that get a majority of votes become part of the allowable actions for members to then take after voting on them at meetings. There's also a time limit after the secret ballot results have been declared for being able to take the action otherwise the Union has to go back to secret ballot again.

If all that sounds confused then consider that I have simplified drastically for brevity's sake. Given the multi-campus nature of Griffith, campuses that are spread over three cities, with the largest probably now the Gold Coast one, the Griffith organiser has her work cut out. So I was put on initially to help make sure members got their votes in during the secret ballot. Once that was completed it as decided to keep me on in the lead up to a 24 hr stoppage that's happening next Wednesday. There's quite a bit of running around involved for us organisers. There's doorknocking, and postering and pamphletting and lots of stuff like that. I've been doing a lot of that over the last couple of days at the Nathan campus and tomorrow we spend a day at the Gold Coast campus doing some more.

I'm working part time with the NTEU and also doing the tutoring work at UQ, which has been very demanding not least because students had to submit their first essay. The tutes didn't start until week 3 and the essay was due in shortly after that. The students have not had a chance to connect up with their tutors and, of course, the university is being stingy with tutorials so we have large tutorials which can be quite unwieldy and with students having to do presentations doesn't give a lot of time to cover anything else. So I've been caught up with marking and becasue I felt that the students have not had the opportunity for much guidance and as it's an intro course I have been very lenient in my marking. Leniency for me is offering the students a chance to resubmit. That also means that I meet with them for a one on one session about what's required for a proper essay. So all of which means that I've been very busy with students and marking to boot.

And on top of that, I'm convenor of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Action Group that's affiliated with Qld Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) which is the successor body to the old Qld AIDS Council. Myself and several others were booked into a two day Digital Stories workshop at the State Library, our registration being paid for by QAHC. And as well there's my involvement with St Mary's. There was a parish meeting a couple of weeks back that I went to and I also seem to have become the regular server for the Sunday evening Mass. The upshot of all this is that over the last three weeks I have not had a weekend of any sort. I got a day off last week as a result of a medical emergency which was really a medical melodrama in a classic case of illness as metaphor. I finished the marking last weekend except for a pile of tute presentations which I was to have marked on Sunday except for a very odd after effect of the watery weekend Full Moon in Pisces that had had me waxing rhapsodic and manically quoting Leonard Cohen in my post on Saturday night.

Around 4.30am our toilet cistern here at home decided to die and began pouring water out in a cascade that began to flood our unit and the one downstairs. The bathroom was turned into a small lake both my flatmate and I were woken by the noise. He got to the toilet before I did and was able to turn off the tap into the cistern. But the carpet down that end of the hall was sopping wet. I mopped out the bathroom grateful that a large a mount of water had been sequestered there if not for that it would have spread much further into the rest of the unit , possibly interacting with the electricals in my bedroom and my flatmate's study. As it was the moisture continued to spread through the carpet including into the bedrooms and said studyand I had to get emergency carpet people in. So Sunday afternoon the unit was a mess with carpet being ripped up and these huge driers installed to dry out the carpet and floors. A lot of books in the study had to be moved and my flatmate had then to move some of the furniture so that the carpet guys could get the driers in place.

Because I'm working down the Gold Coast tomorrow, I also got a day at home today but the strike day is also the deadline for a lecturing job in Theology at University of Newcastle so I've spent the greater part of the day working on my application. I hate job applications. I did so many in 2003-05 I swear it made go quite mad. Certainly that load compounded and no doubt contributed to the depression I struggled with in 2004 and that probably lasted into 2006. But this was one was not so bad, eight selection criteria to respond to. I've seen much worse - jobs at UQ are probably the worst. I applied for a lecturing job there back in 2006 with about 16-18 of the things, mostly repetitive to boot. Totally crazy and frustrating, demoralising even. A classic case of micro-management gone completely awry.

The deadline for the Newcastle job is next Wednesday, which is also strike day. But I have a few things on over the weekend including catching up with my dear friend who I haven't seen for a month. It also seems that our society, while completely discounting the private realm no doubt because it's configured as feminine, maternal, uxorial, at the same time treats workers as if they have someone in that domestic drudge role doing for them at home. No, not treats but expects that to be so. I don't have such a drudge/slave and I have some chores to do as well, the usual washing and grocery shopping and so forth.

So that's a bit of my life of late and hence my blog posts have been infrequent and sometimes quite random especially when the Full Moon is involved. My union work finishes with the strike next week and I have no major marking to do until November. So I should have a bit more time for the blog although I also have a bit writing on my plate to attend to as well. Nevertheless I hope posts will become more frequent and less manic soon.

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