Tuesday, August 10, 2010

so ...

So its been a while (nearly two years actually) since I last posted. I feel a bit awkward. A couple of things have happened in that time - the sort of things you typically tell people when they happen, not a year later. I now have a son. That happened 19 months ago. It is no coincidence that Max's arrival was not long after my last blog post. Life changed that day. I now have a PhD. That officially only happened 1 day ago, but I submitted it about 11 months ago. Life also changed that day.

So life is different now, with many new priorities, and less room for superficiality. Strangely, Max has unknowingly become something of a life teacher for me. His curiosity, and unbounded enthusiasm for the simplest things like a book, a balloon, or a box that looks like a plane, fascinates me. I don't feel the excitement he feels about these things, but I can remember feeling it - and I want it back. His energy is also something I have had to adjust to. You don't sit down with Max in the room. He doesn't allow it. You can argue with him about the merits of a good couch veg, but it'll fall on deaf ears, or perhaps more accurately, he'll just chuck a wobbly. Ironically though, Max is also up for spontaneous naps, as announced by him via the simple statement "Max bed". I laugh at this because for most of Max's life, sleep has been the single most problematic issue we've had to deal with. Now he just tells us.

Anyway, this is a rambling post in an attempt to restart my blogger within. I'll leave it at this, and hope to post again sooner rather than later.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lit Review

It always strikes me how difficult writing a literature review can be. Sometimes it feels like walking through a maze of tunnels, with nothing more than a laser pointer to find your way out. And when you get out, you're not even sure whether you're at the right exit. So you just keep on walking, flashing your pointer around, trusting that this seemingly inefficient process will eventually find the right way forward.

It might all sound a bit dramatic, but as I sit here at my desk with a mountain of papers in front of me to potentially include in my literature review, its the closest analogy I can come up with. Its a funny mix of feelings though. My time frame is pretty tight for getting things done, so I am definitely feeling the pressure to read less and write more. On the hand, I am reading these papers with a significantly heightened sense of context and purpose. Frankly, this stuff has never seemed so interesting as it does now. In some respects, and perhaps a bit embarrassing to admit, I am only just beginning to understand what my PhD is really all about, and where it fits. Problem is, I don't have the time for this sort of academic indulgence. I just need to get this thesis written, and so long as the reviewers are convinced I know what I'm on about, then that's all that really matters for the moment.


Friday, October 31, 2008

bringing it to the people

It's been a hectic couple of days, but very rewarding. Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at the 2008 ACT Intergenerational Forum, an annual community-based forum (ie not a an academic conference) organised and run by PhD students in the general field of ageing research. You'd be forgiven for wondering how the hell my research in computer vision relates to ageing. In a sense, I would like to think my research relates to many things, however, my recent focus has been on how I might be able to adapt my work with insect-inspired vision techniques for navigation to the task of assisting with hazard perception in older drivers. The research out there suggests we do lose some ability to perceive potential hazards as we get older. The forum was a great chance to talk directly with people who might be consumers of such technology, so I got quite a lively array of questions after my talk.

The other consequence of my talk was a little bit of media attention, including a story in ABC News online: Researcher designs insect-inspired navigation system, and a couple of radio interviews, including this one with
ABC News Radio (mp3)

So it has been quite a busy , indeed all-consuming, couple of days. Suddenly thesis writing feels like a bit of an oasis from the madness ... nice to have these distractions occasionally though .. particularly ones that remind you why you're doing this research in the first place.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

28 weeks and counting

28 weeks and counting, but who's counting ? well, I certainly am. We are well and truly into the third trimester, and bub is starting to make himself known. For one, Aff's huge! For two, a fair bit of seismic activity on the surface has become apparent, suggesting the little tacker is developing a keen interest in judo. Early on in the pregnancy, the thought of us actually being pregnant was fairly incomprehensible given the lack of any obvious indicators. Things are a little different now. Do I feel ready ? Hell no! Can I comprehend what's about to happen ? I think so. There is no doubt evolution knew what it was doing when it gave us 9 month pregnancy terms. I suspect many mothers who have gone through particularly rough pregnancies will disagree. For me however, 9 months seems to be about the right amount of time to get my head right (and my thesis). No question, I am really looking forward to being a Dad, and all that it brings. For now though, I am really glad to have the time I have to get things in order, and to take a moment to enjoy being without such a daunting responsibility as raising children.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

rate cuts

So the RBA has slashed interest rates by 1 percent. Only months ago we were being told that no such thing would happen until downward pressure was being applied to inflation. Now the view appears to be that a dramatic slow down in the economy will do that job for us, and so we say "fair thee well" to that little political hot potato. Surely recent events highlight the emptiness of the political debate surrounding "inflationary pressures", and the effect the Australian government has on interest rates. In a globalised economy, and conditions as they are, it is fairly safe to say that the government can neither help nor hinder such things .. at least within the marginal issues in which the debate gets bogged in. We should keep this in mind next time we hear Wayne Swan taking credit for an interest cut, or Turnbull blaming the government for an interest rise.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

the way of the thesis

Indirectly, I've been writing this thesis for years. Every word added to an article or note scrawled out on paper, does contribute towards the final product. That's what you tell yourself anyway, and what you put on your application for extension form. I have to say though, nothing truly feels like thesis writing, except .. well ... writing a thesis.

There was no ceremony or event to mark the start of official thesis writing. It was simple really. I opened a blank file, and named it 'thesis.tex'. I then proceeded to copy and paste every digitised word I have ever written on the subject of computer vision. An hour later, I had added 120 pages of the most incomprehensible mish-mash to my empty thesis document, and so it began.

It is somewhat disconcerting that a month or so later, the number of pages hasn't really increased. On the other hand though, a hell of a lot more has gone into it. The process of adding new content, and then refining the words to say the most you can with as little use of the English language as possible is the way of the thesis. I know I will begin to hate this process, particularly when I realise there is nothing else left to do except write, but for the moment, it actually feels kind of good to be at this stage. Actually seeing it take shape, ever so slowly, and forming into something that represents the four years of work I have put into this is quite a motivator. Of course, having a baby due in three months, and desperately wanting to end student life and get a real income is another.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 26, 2008

blogging again

OK, so it's been a little while. I wish I could point to some noble reasons for why like saving whales in the Southern Ocean, feeding the hungry in Africa, or installing Linux on my desktop, but basically, I got tired of writing. To be honest, I am not feeling particularly in the mood right now, and with my thesis writing ramping up a couple of gears, I do not expect to be writing a lot. On the other hand, these be interesting times in my life, so some sort of record of events, thoughts and activities seems like a good thing to do, even if infrequently.

So, since last post, what's been happening ? Well, for one, Aff and I have gone and made ourselves a baby. He (yes, he is a he) is not born yet, but we expect him to arrive sometime around late December. We're about 26 weeks in now, so over half way there. Aff is looking the part too! No more awkard "I think she's pregnant" looks. Now she just looks pregnant.

In other news, I am now in my last 6 months of my PhD. While I would love to have the thesis out the door by the time mini-macca arrives, this just ain't gonna happen. A full draft, however, is looking like a pretty reasonable goal. From my experience, and talking to others, one month is typically the time it takes to submit after completing a draft. Based on this, and assuming a couple of weeks off when the baby arrives, I have February marked as my thesis deadline. I actually have until the end of March, but I am not allowing myself the luxury of thinking I have this time. I need this thesis out of my life ASAP.

And then what ? well, that's another aspect of my life that has become a little interesting in recent times. I have started looking around, and have even turned down a non-academic position that was offered to me, a decision that wasn't easy as it forced me, perhaps for the first time, to really decide what I want to do when this PhD craziness is over. Basically, I have decided to continue with research, and pursue a post doctoral position. Hopefully there will be more to say about this in the coming weeks. For now, I can say that I am quite confident that I will have something - a feeling that can't be understated.

I could say a lot more about a lot of things. In the interest of "sustainable blogging" however, I'll leave at this, and hopefully add more soon.

It is good to be blogging again!