The week of the meeting

Meetings are important. Particularly for student/supervisor and boss/employee communications, but also for any sort of team work, one face to face chat is generally worth a thousand emails. Some people have too many, and some people have enough, but I think we can all agree that across the board of professions out there, knowing how to attend a meeting is a fairly necessary skill.

So why is it that the meeting I attended last week was a display of some of the least professional behaviour I have ever seen? The attendees were professionals: scientists, managers, leaders and actual grown-up adults. And yet, the level of attention paid was similar at times to that of primary schools students. Email checking, texting, leaving the room frequently, having secondary conversations with other attendees, farting loudly… ok, maybe no loud farting, but everything else was definitely there.

This experience last week, and with other meetings over the past few years has led me now to present to you the SHITELLY factor, a function that I have just made up to quantify how badly some people behave at meetings. If your SHITELLY score crosses the SHITELLY threshold, then you are officially a Random Uninterested Distracted Employee who Doesn’t Understand Decent Etiquette. Yep, a RUDE DUDE.Read More »

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The week of yoga

There are many components of Catalan lifestyle that we are yet to understand. The different religious celebrations, the eating times, the language, the supermarket brands: there is still a lot that needs translating for us. But the language of exercise, I think, is universal.Read More »

The week I reviewed

We are the watcher on the walls. We are the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men…for this night and all the nights to come.

OK, so I’m not Jon Snow (in that I’m not a bastard or disastrously handsome), and we are not waging war against white walkers. But in some respects, peer review is the last line of defence against bad science escaping into the world.Read More »

The week of contrasts

This week has been somewhat of a come down after three jam-packed weeks of visitors and weekends away. We have been so lucky to have many friends and family visit from Australia, and our little apartment and day-to-day lives seem a bit quiet and dull now that they have gone.

Quiet is not always bad. It’s nice to focus on the minutiae of life for a bit: making sure there is edible food in the house, finally cleaning some clothes, and getting stuck into bigger tasks at work. But it makes a stark contrast to the last few weeks of travelling and saying salut every night. I think we will feel somewhat lonely in the weeks to come, as autumn and winter slowly descend on the Ebro Valley.

Tortosa, in its special way, also managed to provide a lovely display of contrast this weekend, in the form of two little festivals (it’s been more than two weeks, right?!)

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The week for a weekend in Barcelona

There’s something magical about Barca. The narrow streets of the old town, the wide avenues of the Eixample district, the sunshine, the palm trees, the curved buildings, the people. Perhaps we are simply Melbourne folk, starved for urbanisation here in Tortosa, but every time I visit Catalonia’s capital I fall in love with it a little more.

Our mini-breaks to the big smoke generally take the same shape (although you can mix and match of course):

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The week of Festes de la Cinta

“What?!”, I can hear you spluttering at your screen. “Another festival? Is she serious? Surely after Sant Jordi, Sant Joan, Benicàssim, the Three Kings and the Renaixement Festival that is enough, at least for a little while. Do some work for goodness sake!”

That’s what I thought too. And believe me, I am trying to work. But this week, this was a big one. Possibly the most important one for Tortosa, because it contained two important days: the celebration of their patron saint, and a Catalonia’s national day.Read More »

The week we were away for three weeks part III

  

This week we caught several trains through the Balkan region: up from the coast to Belgrade, and overnight into Budapest. A relaxing, well-paced adventure, and an opportunity to meet people, eat fresh boreks and see some beautiful country.

But the route we took, particularly from Belgrade to Budapest, is not always a grand old railway sojourn. It’s an escape route for those fleeing war. In both cities we saw hundreds of Syrian refugees sleeping in parks and train stations, families, children, with not much more than a backpack, a plastic bag, and if they were lucky, a tent. Some may stay in Serbia or Hungary, but many will continue on, into Germany or Austria, where family members are and there is more chance of setting up a new life.

We heard many opinions on the refugee crisis on our travels, from a man on a tram in Belgrade proudly telling us that about the free buses the Serbian government was providing to help as much as they could, to a retired Australian man we overheard saying that ‘Europe was finished’ due to the influx of those seeking asylum. While I don’t pretend to be an expert on this complicated topic by any means, surely Europe would be ‘finished’ if it ignored the health and safety of these people who are journeying, not to make the most of their summer time, but to save their own lives.