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Author Archives: Tseen Khoo

About Tseen Khoo

Dr Tseen Khoo is a lecturer in research education and development in Melbourne. In previous incarnations, Tseen has been a research grant developer, and research fellow. She founded a national research network (AASRN), edited an academic journal for 5 years, and has been part of successful major competitive grants. Other than that, she can be quite normal.

PHOTO: There’s no going back to the Big Pineapple

A big pineapple of the past (photo by Tseen Khoo)

A big pineapple of the past (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

As kids, our family loved the Big Pineapple. We loved going there ourselves, and we took just about every single visitor there as well. Our photo albums are peppered with now-faded shots of various clan members. Complete with big sunglasses and perms. Everything about our trips there signalled excitement, visitors, and happy tension. Childhood’s salad days before we could see past the fibreglass and merchandising.

When I try to think about what it was exactly that we were drawn to, I’m left somewhat empty-handed. I remember the old advertisements on TV that featured ridiculously tall parfaits (that I never had) and the Macadamia Nut Train.

On a recent trip to Queensland, we stopped by the Big Pineapple for old times’ sake. To see it as it is today, and scotch the rumours that we’d all heard that it had been taken away.

It was there. The photo for this post was taken there in September 2014. Surrounding it were grassy, cracked car-parks, rundown novelty stalls, and overgrown pineapple patches. There was an odd little zoo further down the block. Everything felt a little defeated and sad.

We left thinking we didn’t need to go back to the Big Pineapple any more.

 
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Posted by on 18/12/2014 in domestic, photo

 

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Where will I be?

I hadn’t counted on a hectic second semester after the hectic-ness of starting a new job in first semester, but it appears that’s what I’ve created!

As well as some exciting and somewhat daunting writing deadlines, I’ll be presenting at the following:

  • 1 October: Student workshop on communicating research through social media at the Australian Entomological Society’s 50th anniversary conference, Canberra.
  • 8 October: Webinar on ‘Getting savvy with your research audiences’ (with Jonathan O’Donnell) for the Australian Association of Gerontology/Emerging Researchers in Ageing.
  • 27 November: ‘Digital academic’ symposium convened by Deborah Lupton, Canberra.
  • 3 December: Breakfast talk for the Psych-Oncology co-operative research group (PoCoG), Melbourne.

This is, of course, on top of my day-job as a research education and development lecturer at an institution with multiple regional campuses. I’ll be travelling to two of the larger campuses over the next few months…two times each.

We’ve also got a holiday planned during one of the school holiday weeks in September, something I’m looking forward to with equal parts dread and longing. Dread because there is nothing worse – nothing – than going on holidays when everyone else and their dog is going on holidays. Longing because it’ll be fun, and away, and I won’t need to commute for a whole week!

I’ll be ready to put my feet up for a short time come 4 Dec. Just a short time, before I’ll have to let the increasing madness of the silly season in.

 
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Posted by on 27/08/2014 in academia

 

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Mid-winter soup

Thai style wonton soup (Photo by asiansupper - https://www.flickr.com/photos/asiansupper)

Thai style wonton soup (Photo by asiansupper – https://www.flickr.com/photos/asiansupper)

This post isn’t about real soup. Let me get that out of the way. Won ton soup is one of my all-time favourites, though, so I thought I’d treat you to this delicious photo.

It’s a potentially messy round-up of recent things that have happened, seeing as I haven’t written anything since April.

Those of you who pay attention to everything I’m doing (yes, so many of you) will notice that everything old is new again. I’ve swapped back to the blog template that I was using a couple of years ago. It feels cosy, and I like it. It makes me think of chocolate.

This week’s been a good one for writing and profile satisfaction. When I’m blogging away after a day’s work, when the kids are asleep or on the weekend (such as now, on a Saturday night, at almost 11pm…), I often ask myself why. Not in the sense that I think it’s pointless, because I don’t, but whether I’m investing time in activities that are more obligatory than enjoyable.

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Posted by on 26/07/2014 in academia, writing

 

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Placeholder Post

No Little Birdies (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

No Little Birdies (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

Best intentions and all. Life’s totally overtaken my blogging schedule.

I started a new job at a new institution recently, and my new commute is 3 hours a day. While I thought this would mean OMG so much writing time, it has not come to pass. On a swaying bus, the best ‘work’ I can do is checking emails + tweeting from my various accounts (AASRN and Research Whisperer, mostly).

I’m keeping this here as a placeholder until things settle down. I’ve started dozens of posts, but never saw them through. Poised over the keyboard, thinking I needed to write something insightful and worthwhile shunting out into the world, I usually balk.

So, if you’re looking at this blog because you’ve found me via one of the hats I wear, here are some shortcuts for finding the kind of stuff you might be interested in:

Meanwhile, as I’ve been saying for about five years, I need to start shedding some roles…

 

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Kids’ books: Chicken Big (Keith Graves)

Chicken Big (Keith Graves) In our family compound, plans were afoot for a shared chicken house for a rather long time.

S. had been cutting steel and welding in between the school and kindy drop-offs for months. Finally, in September, four point-of-lay hens and four chicks came to roost.

In preparation for the chickens’ arrival, I’d bought Keith Graves’ Chicken Big when I spied it in a bookstore.

It sat for weeks in the cupboard. Things were moving slowly on the chicken palazzo front.

When we finally broke it out and read it to the kids, it was love at first sight: peals of laughter; reading it cover to cover repeatedly and literally (there are cartoons on the back cover); imitations of the characters over breakfast; and fragments of text as family code.

It is a book that’s a lot of fun. It’s a classic story about not belonging, and trying to find one’s community. Even if that community is kind of nuts, and thick, and…well, you have to read this book. I’m sniggering to myself just thinking about some of the phrasing and images.

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Posted by on 20/01/2014 in books, kiddiebooks

 

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AWW 2014 – signing up

AWW 2014 badge

AWW 2014 badge

Well, this probably comes as no surprise to those of you who follow me on Twitter, but I will be taking part in AWW 2014.

I’ve been tweeting about enjoying hardcopy books again, after finding myself juggling three paperbacks in my reading hours.

They are all books written by Australian women authors, and include crime fiction and memoir/autobiography. They will probably be reviewed during AWW 2014, as this newly created page flags.

What am I reading at the moment?

  1. PM Newton’s The Old School
  2. Michelle Lee’s Banana Girl
  3. Michelle Dicinoski’s Ghost Wife

It’s purely by accident that I’ve ended up in the midst of this fab constellation of writers/books.

1. I finally got into Old School (which I’ve been meaning to read for YEARS, as @oanh_1 will testify…) because I saw that Newton’s second book about Detective ‘Ned’ (Nhu) Kelly was coming out soon.

2. Dicinoski’s book was gifted to me by the author herself after we had a great, energising chat (our first meeting!). I couldn’t resist having a peek at the first few pages and was immediately engaged by the prose and my own Brisbane nostalgia.

3. Lee’s book was a discovery during one of my frantic Xmas bookshopping blitzes. I hadn’t heard anything about this book, but was immediately sucked in by the fact that it was by an Asian Australian woman who lives in Melbourne. Also: the title.

It’s probably an apt time to cut’n paste a reminder about what the AWW challenges are about:

The 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female,

Australian and non-Australian, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only. (Suggestions for what makes a good review can be found here.)

The challenge will run from Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2014. You can sign up at any time.

I will (again) be attempting the Franklin (10 read, 6 reviewed), and I’m not opting for particular genres this time. Given my predilections, and initial momentum, I suspect it’ll be heavy on crime/thriller and memoir.

Hope you’ll consider signing up as well, and joining in what has grown into a bustling, chatty, and very supportive community!

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My previous AWW sign-up posts:

 
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Posted by on 15/01/2014 in AWW2014, books, gender, review

 

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AWW 2013 – how’d I do?

AWW 2013

AWW 2013

So, I failed again.

I keep signing up, though, so don’t fault my consistency.

For AWW 2013, I had signed up for the Franklin challenge, which meant reading 10 books and reviewing 6 (if one was intending to review, which I did).

I had decided to have a focus on fantasy/horror for this challenge, but wandered off that trail quite early. I tend towards crime fic, and am a fan of Young, so it’s not surprising that I had to read Antidote to Murder. I’d heard so about Savage’s books that I had to try one for myself, and Gardiner’s trilogy is one I’ve been wanting to read ever since I heard about them.

I started well. In fact, I started better than I thought I would. I read Lister and Chan within a month, and felt I was ahead. Each came from the genres I had said I’d focus on.

Chuffed from this, I managed to then let the challenge down by not keeping an eye on the year as it – again – sped past.

Before I knew it, we’d hit November and I was three reviews short and had three more books to go.

I didn’t hold much hope for getting more books read, but I did want to get two more review done, given I’d read the books and all. One of the reviews was for a trilogy of YA novels, which I’d considered splitting into three reviews but thought that might be a bit sneaky (not to mention a lame and transparent attempt to complete the challenge without attending to the spirit of the reviews…).

My final completed book and review list is:

  1. Dionne Lister. Shadows of the Realm. –> my review
  2. Queenie Chan. The Dreaming series. –> my review
  3. Felicity Young. Antidote to Murder. –> my review
  4. Angela Savage, Behind the Night Bazaar –> my review
  5. Kelly Gardiner, Ocean without End (Swashbuckler! series)
  6. Kelly Gardiner, The Pirate’s Revenge (Swashbuckler! series)
  7. Kelly Gardiner, The Silver Swan (Swashbuckler! series) –> my review of the trilogy

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Am I signing up for AWW 2014, which is now officially open?

I’m not sure yet. Truly. It seems a bit pathetic to keep signing up for a reading challenge that I then never complete.

The thing that makes me want to sign up and participate, though, is that AWW is a great community (on Twitter and in blogging circles). It’s companionable to be part of the challenge, even when I know my feet are dragging and I’m not in any danger of completing it.

Watch this space…!

 
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Posted by on 13/01/2014 in AWW2013, books

 

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AWW 2013 REVIEW – Swashbuckler trilogy (Kelly Gardiner)

Ocean without End (Kelly Gardiner)I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people who has tried to read, but never finished, Moby Dick.

And I’d like to admit further that it has haunted me. It’s one of those books that a person with a literary studies PhD is expected to have read. Along with all the works of Shakespeare, and Austen, Dickens, the Brontes, and – in Australia – White.

I’m not one of those literary studies PhDs. But I digress…

Trying to read Moby Dick and other classics that involved ships and steam-trains caused me to build an aversion to books that featured these things. Seriously. I know it sounds silly. To this day, I haven’t read Murder on the Orient Express, even though I’m a big Christie fan.

So, when I first encountered Kelly Gardiner’s (@kmjgardiner) trilogy and realised ships were involved, I hesitated. But I was won over by the idea of a pirate girl protagonist, and I was on the look-out for books to recommend to my daughter as she moved up the reading levels.

I had intended to dip into the first book and see whether the trilogy would be something I’d recommend to her.

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Posted by on 27/12/2013 in AWW2013, books, review

 

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I said what in 2002?

Lost docs (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

Lost docs (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

I was lurking around the dashboard and stats at Research Whisperer recently, after our publication of Katie Mack’s (@astrokatie) hugely popular “Academic scattering” post (on the human cost of academic mobility). Jonathan and I are always interested in how people come to our blog, and where they go once they arrive.

A few of the pages readers went on to visit were at this blog – the slightly bitter’n twisted posts I’d written about research career opportunities and accommodating career interruptions.

Then a single click-through caught my eye.

It was to a Geocities site, which is positively ancient on the interwebs these days. I realised that the click-through was to a 2002 presentation about postgraduate futures that I’d uploaded because of one of the first blogs I ever started: the now-defunct Academia 101. That blog only ever ran to about 6 posts, and was very much like what I write for RW nowadays but in a more long-winded fashion (I think all the posts were at least 1000 words, with some at about 1500).

One of the first posts at Academia 101 was about academic networking, and how I did it (considering that I hate traditional ideas about networking). That post linked to this postgrad futures paper. That post also became my first post for Research Whisperer when we launched in 2011: Networking and other academic hobbies.

Anyway, the point of this post is to re-post and re-archive this presentation about postgraduate futures. I just re-read it, and so much of it still holds. I have a rant about why academic mobility is such an embedded (and loaded) part of the career, then go on to talk about academic collaboration and opportunities, and interpreting our skills for a general jobs market. I think it’s still got currency, even though it was written over 10 years ago.

Funnily enough, it doesn’t contain a skerrick of social media information or influence!

Here it is: No fries with that – TseenKhoo 2002 (.pdf)

And I’d have to extend my thanks again to the convenors of that UQ postgrad futures conference at which I presented, including @johngunders. Who knew it would have this much longevity?

 
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Posted by on 20/11/2013 in academia

 

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