Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Stephening Standard 2013

A Stop-Work!

Back in 2011, I experienced a mid-life event and inevitably, I bought a motorbike. Crisis? No crisis! Just something different and lots of fun.

Then in late 2012, my mind turned to thoughts of retirement. Actually, I had thought of this before, but when I discussed my idea of early retirement with one dear friend, she scoffed and said: “You have to have something to retire from – academic life barely counts as working!”

The 'Retired' Version vs the 'Working' Version
Regardless, when Bond University called for voluntary redundancies at the end of 2012, I decided to say ‘Yes’. Closest thing to a 'golden handshake' that I was ever likely to get.

Zach was a little concerned I think at the idea that I no longer had a job. However, I took the time to explain to him that I had retired and he seemed happy with that. 

However, 24 hours later, he came back from school with the pronouncement that I could not be retired, “you are too young.” Apparently the teachers had expressed some disbelief about my being retired. I sent young Zach back to school telling him he should ask his teachers about the meaning of the word ‘envy.’

Of course, I have not stopped ‘working’ completely - nor started working any more effectively. I am still working on wrapping up my Master’s degree in philosophy; my thesis is now about nine months overdue. With the help of a past student and tutor at Bond, I completed a consulting project down in Canberra which was great fun. 

Most importantly, the book The Other Glass Ceiling on which I have been working for some years with colleague Charles Areni was submitted to the publishers in the second half of 2013. We are currently looking through the edits and it is likely to be published later this year.

Outback Spectacular

Zach & Mary Poppins
In July, I took Zach on an outback tour during his school holidays. 

We first drove from the Gold Coast up to Maryborough which is the birthplace of both his mother and the author of Mary Poppins! (She was a rather prickly and difficult woman – PL Travers that is – and you will learn more about her if you go and see the film Saving Mr Banks).

We arrived in Maryborough and went to a pub for dinner just around the corner from the statue commemorating the birthplace of PL Travers (see left) only to discover we had arrived the night before the annual Mary Poppins festival - so of course, we joined in the period-festival featuring steam-trains and the many characters in the eight books about Mary Poppins.

We then drove up to Rockhampton, and turned west heading out to Sapphire just beyond Emerald. We stayed there for a couple of days allowing some time for Zach to find sapphires, and garnet and various other semi-precious stones.

From there, we drove out through Barcaldine (home to the Tree of Knowledge where the Australian Labor Party was born in 1891), Longreach (bit unnerving to see a QANTAS jumbo jet parked right next to the road with people walking around on the wing), and on to Winton

Winton with a population of less than 1000 people is located about 1000kms from the coast and was our western-most point. What do you think that Winton’s claim to fame might be?

(a)    first home of QANTAS
(b)    place where Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda
(c)    location of some of the best dinosaur finds in Australia
(d)    all of the above

The best answer is ‘d’! Winton is a wonderful oddity featuring all of the above along with Arno’s wall (made up of multiple engines, typewriters, sewing machines, boat propellers, motorbikes and other oddities), a musical fence, a great museum and more.

Zach at sunset at Blandensburg National Park
In our great journey to the backblocks of western Queensland, we found interesting characters (such as Mary Poppins, gem-fossickers, grey nomads and various assorted outback characters), buried treasures (sapphires, garnets, boulder opals), wildlife (alive, recently dead and ancient), and much more besides (hot artesian spring spas, agricultural machinery displays, Aboriginal artefacts, etc).

France, Hawaii, Turkey

I was invited to visit the Grenoble Ecole de Management in May, and flew over to France to give a talk and visit the school. I was super-impressed and would love to find myself a partial appointment there if possible.

Another trip in August took me to Hawaii to a conference, but also allowed me to engage in all the great activities offered in Hawaii – hiking, running, swimming, surfing, kiteboarding, SUPing, etc.

The BIG trip abroad this year was when I skippered a 49’ yacht in a ‘blue cruise’ along the Turkish coast with my Dad as my first mate. He unfortunately got Turkey-tummy (maybe scurvy, or alcohol-poisoning, or giardia), but once that was cured, he was on a roll. Details and images of this trip appear in a separate post below.

Plans for 2014

I will be teaching from January to April (as an 'adjunct' or 'sessional' teacher), I plan to spend three months in France with Zach (April-June), another two months near Delhi, India teaching (Aug-Oct). 

Zach is aiming to complete his primary schooling this year and advancing to high school (year 7) next year.

Zach going the way of the dinosaurs


Anonymous said...

Hi Mate, what a great trip to do with Zach and how very educational for him as well. What a great little guy he is ! Glad to see you are doing some interesting things. I particularly look forward to an autographed copy of the book, which I will pay for of course - the book, not the autographs !
Wonderful stuff ! Catch you for a beer in late Feb, after I get back from Europe. Shack

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great team - an inspirational account of what two people can achieve in just 12 months - Zach you're awesome for taking such good care of your papa! Lesley

Anonymous said...

Great inspiring yarn, immaculately written, witty, interesting.
An object lesson to those w--k---
who insert into Christmas cards weary tales of family events that bore old codgers like me.
Lets try and meet up when in Europe 2014?
H ('The Godfather')