Category Archives: musings

success couching (redux+)

This is a re-post from a year ago, with an update…

We’ll get us a success coach
to train up our success
he’ll pump us up with slogans
until we are the bestest.
He’ll elevate our excellence
right up to the sky!
And as the gas comes whooshing out
our excellence will fly! Continue reading


Filed under musings, poem

thesis writing: the Rimmer method

I’m spending a lot of my time at the moment reading thesis drafts. And reflecting on the theses and papers I’ve helped students with, and my own writing practice, I have formulated the Rimmer toilet paper methodology for thesis writing and reviewing to help other supervisors and their students.

The methodology is inspired by Rimmer’s frugal use of toilet paper: “one up, one down, one to polish”. Applying the same idea to thesis reviewing saves the time of the both the student and the supervisor.
The aim is that the supervisor only has to read the thesis three times, and the student doesn’t go mad revising draft after draft.
This how it works:

1. One up: the first draft has the ideas and the structure, the outline of the argument, and the chain of logic between method, results and conclusions with enough data to support the argument. And that’s all. So, on the reading of this draft, the sticky and lumpy problems get sorted, and direction for what else needs to go in is clarified. The result of this reading is that the page/word count goes up, because the student goes away with a clear understanding of what to do to put where.

2. One down: the second draft should be pretty much complete, and logically sequenced. A little bit of structural editing happens at this stage – paragraphs get moved, the argument gets tightened up. And this is where stuff that doesn’t need to be in there gets deleted. You can’t afford to be precious – if it doesn’t contribute clearly and directly, cut it out. The result of this reading is the page/word count goes down.

3. One to polish: the third draft should be the last if you did the first two well. This is the copyedit and proofread stage – just making it read nicely, fixing grammar and spelling errors: polishing.  This stage must be preceded by the previous two, because you can’t shine… a first draft.

As a supervisor, sometimes it feels like a whole roll of toilet paper has to be used to clean up a thesis between first mucky draft and final polished perfection. And after the tenth reading you start to want to insert the thesis sideways into even the best of students. But the thoughtful application of the “one up, one down, one to polish” methodology will save time and support better student-supervisor relationships.

Note that the “one up, one down, one to polish” methodology is most suitable for lengthy pieces of writing, where a theme or argument needs to be sustained. For very short pieces, such as blog posts, the urinal method is perfectly acceptable – just squirt it out, and walk away.


Filed under musings, prose

a tear could attract birds of prey

I’m picking up on a line here from Ngina that really spoke to me “a tear could attract birds of prey”.  Although I’m not actually sure which homonym of tear she meant. 

It is not harsh words
or sad news.
It is unexpected kindness
in the midst of sorrow and cruelty
that tears a sob
gasping from my chest
and pours tears down my face.

Because tears could attract birds of prey –
honed talons spread
obsidian beaks waiting to gorge.
Or worse, carrion crows,
black rag-scraps fluttering and fighting
for a carcass morsel.

It is only in solitude
or in the company of kindness
that tears can be safely released.


Things are a bit shit at the moment. My father was recently taken into care because his dementia got so bad he started wandering and getting lost. My mother then had a fall and is now in hospital and doesn’t know where she is. One of my kids hates me and takes every opportunity to tell me how much – and it’s a lot, and he tells me continuously.  And we’re flooded in so I can’t get away from him. And most of my job is dealing with problems – people’s problems and problem people. I’m feeling assailed by negativity on all sides.

So at the campus end of year function today when a colleague thanked me for inspiring him I completely lost it and bawled my eyes out for the next half hour. Lucky it was online so no one could see me.


Filed under musings, poem

some notes for Selma

Some notes for Selma on orbits, because I couldn’t put all this in a comment.

I can’t add a file other than an image, so here are my notes on orbits for Selma as a bunch of images. If they look fuzzy, just click on the image and it will display as a nice clear version. Continue reading


Filed under musings, prose

good things only #2

I haven’t been writing lately, because it’s marking season and I haven’t had time or head space for anything else. But it’s all done except the late submissions now, so here is an animal edition, for my second good things only:

1. Driving home from school drop-off on Wednesday (campus is still closed although the Canberra lockdown has lifted), with the prospect of another day of nothing but marking, when crossing the road in front of me:

Of course I had to stop and get out and watch it finish crossing the road and trundle off into the bush.

No matter how urgent the marking, there is always time to watch an echidna. Echidnas are egg laying mammals with an electric sense in their nose. How cool is that? Continue reading


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the ghost kangaroo of Gundaroo

Reposting this for Halloween: 

Come gather round the campfire mates,
and we’ll share a tale or two.
And I’ll tell you one that’s true and straight,
of the Gundaroo ghost kangaroo. Continue reading


Filed under musings, poem

Good things only #1.

Taking a leaf out of Sean’s book, I’m going to try some (non-toxic) positivity posts to try to boost my mood (struggling a bit lately). So here are some good things from my day, to remind me:

1. Coffee with a friend for the first time in months.  So nice to talk to a person who I don’t live with and who doesn’t want something/need me to solve a problem for them!
2. A senior colleague I respect saying he learnt a lot from teaching with me, in front of the whole school.
3. Relaxing in the sun with my darling oinky girl, even though she wouldn’t share the seat with me. She did bite me on the bum, but not hard, so I’m interpreting as affection.


Filed under musings

stacking stones / talking to Samuel

It is not, so much,
the loss of coffee with friends,
or family visits,
that is isolating.
Rather it is the loss of chance encounters,
a conversation with someone stacking stones –
that unexpected realisation of another’s humanity,
that reminds us of our own. Continue reading


Filed under musings, poem

bronze bollocks

I’m a mouthy little specimen,
with pheromone breath enticing,
come, crawl up my labellum,
to my anther so inviting.
Let my petals guide your flight,
there’s just two, but sepals aid,
come on, come in, don’t fight,
the stigma’s worth the pollen paid. Continue reading


Filed under musings, poem

nodding greenhood

No flamboyant, pampered,
and over-bred
hot-housed princesses,
potted and fed,
no, Continue reading


Filed under musings, poem