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On going and moving home

It's been a busy week. It's been a busy few weeks, actually. This coming Sunday, we must be out of our apartment. Consequently, we have been working feverishly to make it happen. The vendors have been very accommodating, and because of them acting in good faith and because of our lawyer's competence, we are due to complete (settle) on Friday. Yay. There has been far more stress and effort on our parts getting it happening, particularly with respect to the mortgage. But it should be happening without further problems.

My level of posting may go down a little bit over the next couple of weeks. We are in the following unfortunate position: our phone is with NTL. For those in the UK, you probably don't any further explanation. For those back in the old country, imagine you are somewhere in the back of beyond, say outback WA. You want to get some service. You call up Telstra. Relatively speaking, they are fast and efficient. Unfortunately, we had to get a 12 month contract to get a phone in our apartment, and Bec wanted a phone in our apartment.

What makes it even worse, however, is that to get good broadband, we will need to get a phone line with someone else as well. So we'd have to pay for 2 phone lines and the internet just so that I can come home from sitting on the computer all day to sit on the computer at night. So, without internet, posting will probably drop off for a little bit.

Speaking of the old country and home, for those who don't know, Bec and I will be making a trip back home in late November / early December. My mother guilted me into going to my graduation ceremony. I will also have a very important engagement party to go to. While we're at it, I will also do a little bit of work at Monash, because there is some equipment I want to see. If anyone wants to get a chance to see me while I'm there, let me know.

Something which occurs to me as I type this, is how many of life's joyous occassions are really just the removal of a stress or a pain. Buying a man with pain, so to speak. Yes, there is some joy in it, too, but a large component is the removal of stress. Finishing your PhD - 4 years of stress (note, I didn't say hard work). Getting married - the whole wedding preparation thing (I had to hear about). Childbirth - listening to your partner whine for a length of time (note, this is not presonal experience, I'm just guessing).

I recently finished Douglas Adams' Salmon of Doubt. I know I have said before that most books I read end up with someone dying. In this case, it was Adams.

Anyway, because I'll be away for a while, AATTLG theatre presents:

A degree for all seasons

Act One

Scene One

Scene one begins with Matthew, the Common Student, clothed in jeans, runners and a t-shirt. He lays out food on a table for a departmental function, eating some of it as he goes.

His supervisor, Prof. Thomas More comes in and asks for some food. He asks whether it is any good, but Matthew denies knowing.

Richard Rich comes in as Matthew glares at him. Rich continues his argument that he's been having with More, maintaining that the piece of equipment he wants can be bought. More tells him it can't. Rich acts about applying for a grant. More says no. Rich asks about using existing funding. More says no. Rich suggests industrial sponsorship. More says no.

Rich suggests buying it with suffering. More is intringued and asks for elaboration. Rich tells him that he meant offer to do a full evaluation of the equipment with the trade-off that they keep the equipment. More again says no, but is taken with the idea of postgrads suffering.

More then asks him who he is planning to do his PhD with. Rich says that he's thinking about doing his PhD with Cromwell, adding that Cromwell promised him a good job afterwards. More suggests that he could take his Masters and get a teaching position.

Rich isn't impressed, and More counsels him that he'd be a good teacher and that it would be good for him.

The Head of Department, Prof Norfolk, enters with More's secretary, Alice. They are having a discussion about something fairly trivial in this version of the story, so it will be skipped over.

After some discussion (and free food), Matthew comes in to pass on a message to More that some people from the faculty are waiting for him. More races off to see them.

Scene Two

More has a heated discussion with Dean Wolsey from the funding body. Wolsey wants his opinion on a report for Parliament, asking to adopt the Melbourne Model. More tells him that it is well-written. Wolsey stresses how important it is that they adopt it, so that they can squeeze out as much money as possible from the students for the same level of teaching.

Scene Three

On his way back, More bumps into Dr Cromwell, who is on his way to see Wolsey. Cromwell is disappointed to hear that Wolsey was left in a bad mood.

Note - as usual, I'll write a few characters out, including Chapuys.

Scene Four

Alice asks More what Wolsey wanted, and More said that he wanted him to read a report.

Scene Five

Wolsey is found dead, drowned in a sea of bureaucratic paperwork (I know I have missed the whole water metaphor so far, but sometimes it is necessary). More is reluctantly appointed Dean.

Scene Six

Cromwell has a meeting with his post-grad, Rich. They discuss Cromwell's new Chair and Cromwell hints at a fellowship for Rich. They then discuss Rich's research, but Rich, like any good post-grad, has nothing to tell Cromwell.

Scene Seven

The Vice Chancellor, Henry, comes to talk to More about the Melbourne Model. Henry wants him to implement it, but More cannot find away to make it educationally sound. Henry warns him not to speak out against it. Henry leaves early. Alice is upset that More doesn't just accommodate Henry's wishes.

Rich pops in and asks More for a job. More tells him to go and get f lost.

Scene Eight

Cromwell has another meeting with Rich, telling him that he has a post-doc position available. He tells Rich a secret, and Rich says that he wouldn't tell anyone. After being pressed, he admits that it depends on what he is offered. Rich also shows Cromwell a graph. This is a commonly used metaphor to represent having done some work and got results.

They also discuss More, commenting that he is an excellent researcher but not a good administrator. This is not meant as a compliment.

Act Two

Scene One

Matthew fills in two years worth of narrative in one scene. In that time, all sorts of things happened. Rich even finished his PhD.

Scene Two

More finds out that the Melbourne Model has been approved. He resigns as Dean and goes back to his research and teaching. He refuses to make a comment about the Melbourne Model. More realises that his funding sources have dried up, and he has to let several researchers go. He tries to keep his now RA, Matthew, but can't afford him. (Note, he still keeps his secretary though).

Scene Three

Norfolk and Cromwell are chatting. Cromwell tells him that the VC wants him to get More to agree with the Melbourne Model. Either that or be sacked.

Cromwell has a chat with Rich about how to use Norfolk to get to More.

After Cromwell leaves, Matthew convinces Rich to give him a job.

Scene Four

More is summoned from his run-down offices to see Cromwell.

Scene Five

Cromwell has a discussion with More, trying to get him to make a statement saying how wonderful the Melbourne Model is.

Cromwell also hints at some of the ways they will try to get him if he doesn't.

Scene Six

Norfolk tries to convince More to give in. More breaks off their friendship to protect Norfolk.

They find out that the University board has written a new statute sacking anyone who doesn't agree publicly with the Melbourne Model. More races to his office to read the exact wording.

Scene Seven

More is placed in an office with some administrators. He wants to be let out, but they jail him with paperwork. Matthew tells the audience what happened to Norfolk, Cromwell and Rich, saying that only Rich retired on his own terms, many years into the future.

Cromwell and Norfolk are on a commission trying to make More make a statement. More refuses and refuses to tell why. They decide to take away his books.

Scene Eight

Sorry, gotta go. I'll cut to the chase. More gets sacked 'cos Rich lies. Rich gets tenure.


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