Posts Tagged ‘life events’

Last day full-time…

October 27, 2017

So that’s it then. After 33 years at Stirling University, or 37 years as an academic, or having worked or been a student since I was 17 (with time off for the occasional holiday), I’m down to 20% as from 1 November. And since I’m going on holiday to Iceland next week, today was my last day full-time at the University. I’ll be semi-retired: I can be told what to do at work one day a week, and I can do what I want (whether at work or not) the rest of the time. I’m still quite involved in things academic, between the SICSA AI theme, the University of Stirling Context project, and working with the INI DAS1 silicon cochlea.

Today was a bit of an anti-climax, however. I’ve had little teaching this semester (because of this change half-way through), and ever since I demitted as Head of Department, I’ve felt as though I had retired! Yes, we had some cake and biscuits, yes a few of us went for a drink, but it didn’t feel very celebratory. Perhaps it was the faculty meeting this morning (the usual: bring in more money, write more 4* papers for the REF, keep the lovely students happy by giving them feedback quickly, and don’t confuse them by presenting them with a web presence that doesn’t conform to University norms, be ambitious but realistic on our achieving success forms, …), perhaps it was just me, world-weary after so long in post (have I really seen it all before? Or is it really a bright and shiny new world out there?). Whatever, as the young say: it felt like a bit of a let-down.

And now? Nearly midnight, with a small nightcap of Lagavullin, and some dark chocolate (thanks, Noel, for suggesting this a a conference in Skövde quite a long time ago: dark chocolate and malt whisky are a lovely mix), I have time to reflect. I’m still interested in research, and perhaps more interested in explaining to a lay audience. Artificial Intelligence, bio-mimetic computing, early auditory processing, still needing developed. Of course I know that others can and will take this work forward. And I should be able to send more time playing music as well, and maybe playing with one electronics too.

Or maybe I’ll just drink more whisky. And eat more dark chocolate.

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On turning 65

October 6, 2017

Well, here I am: 65 on the 3rd October, Tag der deutschen Einheit, for those in Germany, but no public holiday here in Scotland. And now what?

I’m planned to go down to 20% of full time at the end of this month (was to be 50%, but I reckoned, I’d end up working 100% for 50% of the salary. At least at 20% I can say “no” more easily. Plan is to work on various research projects (on the silicon cochlea, on the neuro-robotics project, on the contextual learning project, to name three), and to do a little  teaching too, but not to much, and , more importantly, to drop all the admin materials (like being in charge of impact, or of research within the Department). But it may not all be so easy.

We’ve lost 2.8 staff, out of a small group: 0.8 is me, 1.0 is one staff member who has gone to London, and 1.0 is another staff member who has been appointed to a promoted post in an ancient Scottish University. All quite normal, but unusual for us, in that they all happened so close together. So I suspect there may be pressure on me to do more teaching, marking etc …

But if required, I can resist!

Meanwhile, I’m aware I’m much less busy than last year or the year before at this time. Though still officially full time, it feels like rather less than that: I’m only working 35 hours a week, rather than the 50 odd I was usually working. And I can actually write some code again. So far, the man beneficiary seems to have been editors of journals, because I’ve agreed to review rather more than I usually do, but I’ll need to keep that within limits.

I’m trying also to take up other interests, after all, after 43 years in Computing, there might be other things to do. So I’ learning the clarinet, as well as playing piano with some friends who seem quite interested in getting a few gigs together… watch this space (and SoundCloud too!)

Life events at one remove.

December 15, 2014

It’s been a week-end of major life events at one remove. On Friday, my youngest, Jonathan, was 21, and today, my oldest, Eleanor (now with her own blog) is 40. Turning  40 doesn’t seem such a long time ago, even if turning 21 seems like a lifetime past. I recall mine, working in the City of London, and being taken out and filled with whisky (as a Scot in London) at lunchtime. (Well, I suppose, I must have been a willing victim, since I don’t believe anyone forced drink down my throat!). This was followed by a rather unproductive afternoon, during which I’m told I suddenly turned green, and rapidly left for the toilets. My fortieth was a much more civilised affair, a party at home with children present, and a new electric piano. But why should these life events of my children affect me so?

On one hand, it’s an intimation of an end of an era: with no kids under 21, surely I should be moving on to some new part of my own life. I haven’t any grandchildren, though there’s a grand-dog, Frieda, in DC with daughter Alexis & Katy! And perhaps it’s also my recent (minor) operation providing intimations of aging and mortality. I’m not a believer in trying to indefinitely prolong life: there’s a time to go, and preferably before ones wits abandon ship. How long might that be? My father made it to 84, and was  solving the Times crossword the evening before he died, so that’s a good sign. But I’ve watched others gradually lose the place, and it’s not a pretty sight.

At least now, it’s over: there’s no other big birthdays on the immediate horizon (at least birthdays are predictable). Nor, so far as I know, any imminent marriages or other life events, but one never knows…But carpe diem! Let’s celebrate the birthdays: we had a very good dinner at the Cafe Andaluz in Glasgow for the 21st, and there’s a party in Stirling for the 40th next Saturday!