Sunday, February 8, 2015

Arts and Fireworks

School & Work

Admittedly, I haven't done much for my research since the trip to Queenstown. I've been working on several editing projects and planning upcoming trips to the North Island and Australia (finally booked our flight to its east coast -- very much looking forward to it!). The English PhD student in the cubicle next-door who is rarely there and never speaks finally talked to me and actually offered me a grading job for the semester! Also found out that her research is something to do with Star Trek television shows. She needs a group of people to grade papers for the one writing class that engineering students have to take (because employers complained that recent grads couldn't communicate). Add that to my other three part-time jobs and I will have quite a schedule when the school semester for undergraduates starts on February 23rd. Of course, I don't have a schedule yet because everything is done so last-minute.

There were two research presentations on-campus by the two candidates for a part-time English faculty position, so it was interesting to see this part of the job interview. The first just received her PhD last year and is looking at representations of women in horror films; the second is an American who moved to NZ over a year ago whose research is on contemporary women's representations in literature and film through the lens of literary theory. They were very different, so I have no idea whom will be chosen. The first was a graduate of the department, so there could be some bias there, although the decision-makers might also be looking for a fresh perspective.

D and I have been having several discussions about arts education, and a particularly intense one after I read aloud parts of this long but informative article on liberal-arts education (link below), how it has changed, what people think it means, and whether or not it is still valued/valuable in various societies. I haven't yet formulated an essay on the topic, but I feel like one is in the works in my mind.
The Chronicle of Higher Education's "The Day The Purpose of College Changed"

In a similar vein, one of the reasons I nominated myself to be on the committee of the university's feminist society/club was to help ensure there are opportunities for education on women's issues and civil rights on-campus. Along with the recent cutbacks in many of the school's Arts programs (including American Studies) was the removal of the Gender Studies programs, which means that currently there is only one class on gender, in the Sociology department, which is only offered occasionally. This seems odd for a well-regarded university of over 14,000 students. So I was successfully voted in and will be doing my part this year to incorporate educational events for interested students into the club's schedule.


We went on a hike in the Port Hills which was particularly hard because it was a hot day and all uphill. The hills were brown but we still enjoyed good views of the ocean and harbor on either side at the top.

Another day we went on one of the trails at Halswell Quarry Park. The blue-gray Halswell Stone from there was used to build many of the city's buildings. The city has done a nice job of preserving the history with several boards around the 30-minute trail. 

For some reason, Christchurch likes its fireworks shows. The third show since November was on January 31, called "Sparks". The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra played movie themes for two hours beforehand. The weather was bad -- it drizzled the whole time and was windy -- but that didn't deter them from lighting off the fireworks.


D had a packet of San Francisco sourdough yeast mailed to him and, after days of prep, successfully made a loaf of bread with some of that sourdough tang he so enjoys. Later, he made another batch and will keep the starter going in the fridge to help it become even more sour-tasting. This kind of bread-making is definitely an intensive process. I made pumpkin pie (with a homemade crust) for the first time for a friend's going-away board game party. It turned out pretty good! Thank you, Libby's canned pumpkin. I advertised my financial guide ebook on social media (a little side project I finished last year) and enrolled for a short cooking class at the local community center which starts tomorrow. My sunflower bloomed and our car passed its Warrant of Fitness test (required every 6 months for older cars). Yay! And today we went to the park to hear the Scottish Society Pipe Band play bagpipes and drums.

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