While I stepped back

Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev | unsplash.com
Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev | unsplash.com

It has been quite the month. I have spent three weeks of the past four being sick, rushing to Emergency, having surgery, and convalescing at home. I am about to go back to work tomorrow. 

Time felt different when I was sick. If I’m on holidays, the texture of the days are carefree and focused on doing fun, unscheduled things. When I was sick, it was an effort to get through a day, and the earlier weeks were full of medications and anxieties. Worrying about work and the fact that I was taking unplanned time away from it (especially when a new year’s semester is kicking off properly) didn’t help with taking things easy and resting up. 

All that said, things happened while I was MIA. I was grateful for them. These projects were already rolling along beforehand, and were brought to fruition by wonderful colleagues. Seeing them out and about made me feel less like I was doing nothing and falling behind…even though I was doing nothing and falling behind. Continue reading “While I stepped back”

6 months in 1 post

Image created by Carolina Iplinsky as part of United Nations Global Call Out to Creatives | unsplash.com
Image created by Carolina Iplinsky as part of United Nations Global Call Out to Creatives | unsplash.com

It’s my last day of work for the year today.

It has taken the writing of a couple of end-of-year posts for me to build enough momentum to give this blog some love. The two other posts I’ve contributed to in the last few days are:

  • Surviving 2020 (final post for Research Whisperer; co-authored with Jonathan O’Donnell)
  • Looking at 2021 (final post for RED Alert; co-authored with Jeanette Fyffe, Dan Bendrups, and Jamie Burford)

If you read both of these posts, you’ll get an idea of how I’m feeling towards the year and what’s transpired. There was plenty I didn’t say, though, because of space and also the types of forums those blogs are. There are things I’d say on this personal blog that I wouldn’t as part of RW or RED Alert (and I realise there’s a whole blogpost in the whys/wherefores of that statement…). For a start, this post is really quite long… Continue reading “6 months in 1 post”

#chefbro recipe – kaya

I know some people live their whole lives without tasting kaya. It’s sad. 

Basically, kaya is a type of coconut jam –  an eggy, custardy, pandan-fragrant, delicious coconut jam. 

Kaya has big childhood resonance for me. My mother used to make it in the cramped kitchen of our family home in Brisbane, at night so the heat wasn’t usually too bad (says I, who never had to stay tethered to the hot-plate and double-boiler…).  Continue reading “#chefbro recipe – kaya”

#chefbro recipe – crumpet loaf

This blog is not a recipe blog, so it may seem odd that this post contains a recipe. Here’s why it’s here: I posted a couple of photos of my brother’s crumpet loaf on Twitter and the level of interest in it was remarkable.

Lots of people did not know such a thing existed – it is indeed a gift for humanity that it does – and quite a few were asking about a recipe. I thought this was the easiest way to share it as Twitter does not lend itself to sharing recipes, what with that 280 character limit and all.

The recipe and method is below, direct from my brother Kong Hian Khoo, the chef (aka #chefbro on my Twitterstream). Not only is he a fabulous chef, he’s also an excellent brother and human being. If I could emulate even half his generosity, good humour, and optimism, I would be a way better Tseen – and possibly someone you don’t recognise…

[Don’t worry, family, I’ll go back to sledging the dragon-seed soon]

Whole crumpet loaf | Photo by Tseen
Whole crumpet loaf | Photo by Tseen

Continue reading “#chefbro recipe – crumpet loaf”

When more = more

Nerd Nite snap by Nerd Nite photographer James Verhoeven.
Me hidden behind Clare’s hand, Steven in front, Jamie and Lise behind. Nerd Nite snap by Nerd Nite photographer James Verhoeven.

I’m a home-body. Have been my whole life. This has waxed and waned, though, and I’ve stumbled across journal entries from my late teens/early 20s where I seemed to go out just about all weekend – going from one thing to another, hanging out at various friends’ places, out to dinners and parties. That seems a long time ago, and I remember these heightened social times balanced with plenty of flaking out in my room and a richness of solitude or quietness with just my partner.

In my 30s, I travelled and did a lot academically – I spent almost a whole decade as a research fellow. This was pre-babies. Once babies hit, it was a different ballgame and kettle of fish. Yes, both of those. Continue reading “When more = more”

Things to spruik 1

Comic Sans - issue 2 | Photo by Rachel Ang
Comic Sans – issue 2 | Photo by Rachel Ang

I wrote ‘Asian Australian Voices‘ in July 2016 and, since then, I’ve had so many things to add.

This is because I missed things out, they started after that last listing, I came to things later, or I just feel like more people should know about the fab work that’s going on with these peeps. If I had done my PhD around now, I would’ve been spoilt for material to study and critical takes on so many cultural works, and I’m saying that knowing full well that there’s a long, long way to go in terms of representation from, and opportunities for, Asian Australian writers, performers, artists, and other cultural workers.

Note that this listing is highly subjective and testament to the wonderful bubble of networks I have around me. I should also mention that my ability to categorise consistently is also rubbish. Caveat emptor!

I realise there’s plenty of other top-shelf stuff out there (please share them in the comments if you’d like!).

I have titled this post ‘Things to spruik 1’ in anticipation of more to come – I would love to write a series of these posts, noting the uber-fab things that you all get up to. Continue reading “Things to spruik 1”

Highlights of 2018

Melbourne Central aerial | Photo by Tseen Khoo
Melbourne Central aerial | Photo by Tseen Khoo

This is post is all about using the benefit of hindsight to contemplate 2018.

Life feels like it moves faster these days and, aside from big milestones such as having a child or starting a new job, much of it is a flurry of half-rememberedness. There are the moments captured in photographs that stick in my mind, but not much else. I sometimes get sad about this.

I recognise that this half-rememberedness and the constancy of it is a privilege in some ways as I have the luxury of steady jobs these past 7.5 years that I can rely on (knock on wood).

The work-face highlights I list in this post aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ but the most memorable and stretchy moments of last year. It was a good consolidating year after a fairly depleting and unhealthy 2017. Continue reading “Highlights of 2018”

Conversations in contrast

Photo by Tseen Khoo

I was at an event at the Immigration Museum recently.

There was a savvy panel of Asian Australian intellectuals and creatives from Peril magazine and Asian Australian Democracy Caucus.

They generated a fantastic critical race conversation and covered big, exciting territory about nation-state identities, exclusionary processes, dispossession, and everyday racisms and their consequences for senses of community.

Most of the people in the room were activist inclined and on board with the debates – not always in agreement, but willing to take on the issues and talk about them.

There were several white audience members – mostly older and male – who were deeply uncomfortable, if not openly hostile, to the presentations taking place in front of them.  Continue reading “Conversations in contrast”

Expressions of Interest: #whispercon 2016 (29 August, ANU)



The way #whispercon works: each of the five key participants get to invite four people to the gig.

I have used two of my invites and wanted to gift the other two to my broader network of Twitter peeps.

I want to do this for a few reasons. The main one is that, even though I am a big cynic about many things, one thing Twitter has taught me is that there are many potential collaborators and #circleofniceness members out there I may not have had the chance to get to know better.

I love the friends who’ll be getting together in Canberra, and I recognise that growing this wise, positive, supportive bunch serves all of our interests.

My bias is towards those with interests in researcher development, digital communities, and effective, savvy ways for researchers to build non-academic organisational collaborations for the longer-term.

So, if you’re interested in being considered for one of my #whispercon invites, please:

  • Read about the format and aims of #whispercon 2016.
  • Know that the event is in Canberra + we offer no funding.
  • Email me (tseenkhoo@gmail.com) for a link to a short questionnaire. And, yes, I’m deliberately putting an extra step in there.

Expressions of interest welcome till MON 18 April 2016. 

My final decision will be based on entirely opaque personal preferences. I’ll let people know within a week of the closing date.


EDITED TO ADD: We’ll be welcoming four wonderful people to #whispercon in 2016 – 2 from my open invites, and another 2 from two of my colleagues each making one of their invites open. 

Thanks for your interest and excellent enthusiasm for #whispercon, Kath Albury, Roanna Gonsalves, Linda Kirkman, and Sharon McDonough. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming you to the event in August. 

Where RW can take me

ECU Library, Joondalup, WA  |  Photo by Tseen Khoo

I’ve just returned from a brilliant trip to WA – to Perth and Edith Cowan University. ECU – Joondalup, to be precise.

I was invited to ECU by Con Wiebrands (ECU’s University Librarian), to give a presentation to her Library staff and Research Office people, too. It was the first time I’d been invited to give a presentation to an audience that was not higher degree researchers or early career researchers.

It felt like a challenge, and my presentation on “What ECRs want” aimed to generate intra-university connection and collaboration to create an enabling ECR research environment.

There were several notable things about this gig, which came about because of The Thesis Whisperer’s advocacy and my work on The Research Whisperer with Jonathan O’Donnell.

One of things I realise repeatedly and gratefully since about mid-2012, is that RW is truly the gift that keeps on giving. We have had so many lovely opportunities to meet with excellent colleagues and try out new audiences, and to be able to share the experiences and wisdom of so many researchers.

Knowing how much rides on invited speakers, it’s always an honour to be approached as an event guest. We often find ourselves giving talks and workshops at society conferences, as part of professional development programs, and within ‘research week’ activities.

For 2015, Jonathan and I have been invited to present across many topics, around Australia. Here’s our speaking trail: RW live!

As well as being invited presenters at others’ events, Jonathan convened the first Whispercon, hosted by RMIT, in August this year. If you want to have a peek at what went on, here’s the Storify from Whispercon, and a post that Jonathan wrote afterwards, How the Whisper workshop works. The 2nd Whispercon is planned for Canberra in 2016.

The second thing that was notable about this WA trip is I got to meet Con face to face.  Continue reading “Where RW can take me”