5:30 To 23:00

No matter where you are in the world, you’re awake at 5.30am.

You could be in an airport hotel in Manchester, the floor speckled with orange light from the Vacancies sign. You could be in the Melbourne Hilton, where the window blind bisects an awesome view of the Bolte Bridge and a lamplight shines on the program of the conference you’re working at. Or maybe it’s your own home, where the laundry basket cradles your snoring black cat. It doesn’t matter. It is cold and it is night.

Usually this means you read quietly, by the light that slowly grows from dawn in the east-facing room. Today, you turn on the computer and start on emails, checking out the RSS feeds and looking over the plan for the day that you wrote at the end of yesterday. Over a dozen blog-posts and sites have updated in the few hours you got some sleep. Some you highlight for reading and reviewing later, if you have the time. A few may become useful classroom resources; you wish there were more posts like those.

By the time it hits 6:30am, you’re answering the ten or so inquiries about your most recent blog – post / email / social-networking debate. You draft an idea for a new interview and download a relevant science paper. You check your university email account and discover that you have an assignment due at the end of this coming week, not the next week.

Ten minutes before seven, you turn on Skype, prepare a glass of water and take out your notes  – for an interview with a psychologist who happens to be a magician, about their work and the new course they’ll be teaching. It’s fascinating, fun and you even do a hilarious card trick together, all via audio.

Once the interview is finished, you set iTunes to download podcasts while you get ready for the day. Then you discover that your black cat was in fact sleeping on the shirt and pants that you were going to wear. You settle for plonking the feline out the front door, and give everything a thorough shake to remove the fur.

You shower and then apply lipstick as you find a headband to tame your uncontrollable hair as you think of today’s lesson plan. One shoe is on top of the television, the other perched in the flowerpot near the door. Don’t stop to ask why, otherwise you’ll be late. You toss a chocolate bar, a diet soda and a banana into that expensive bag you keep abusing and bind all of last night’s grading into a manila folder with the other arm as you lock the door behind you with your foot. Multi-tasking. You has it.

You travel the half-hour it takes to get to work, listening to either the most recently-downloaded podcasts or one of your own shows – one of those soon-to-be-released episodes that need to be edited. You make notations as to the time-stamps for editing. You flick through the book for the interview you’ll be doing later today; paste post-it notes on the pages that you have folded down.

Half of the city appear to be cakewalking to the tunes of Berlin-era Bowie in antique lace and the other half are impersonating Freddie Mercury stuck in a fire-ant nest. This is standard.

At 8.30am, you are checking work email, and the grading you need to finish; about ten papers left. You disappear into arguments about war and justice and ethics, taking a quick break for a cup of mint tea before class.

Class starts and you alternatively pace the room or jump up and down about the students’ opinions. Utilitarianism. Cloning. Right to life. Abortion. Virtue ethics. Theory. Reality.

Then you head to a former-classroom-turned-storage-cupboard in a hall and review over the notes you presented today, adding clarifications and additional notes. Then you start to create new worksheets and send out more links and information about the topic to your email account, as you drink the soda you put in your bag.

Before leaving, you do a final check over your email and head over to select a book from the library, in order to review the finer details of the topic you’ll be teaching later. Euthanasia. Merciful death. Which countries legalise the practice… Belgium?

You suddenly remember to eat the worse-for-wear banana from your bag, as you stuff all the paperwork back into it. A text-message reminds you of tomorrow’s dance class. Where did you leave your tango shoes?

By 4pm you’re on your way home while munching a chocolate bar and listening to remaining podcasts while stuck in traffic. Upon arriving you accept a cup of tea, a kiss and hang a sign on your office door: ‘RECORDING – DO NOT DISTURB THE LEOPARD’.

You connect via Skype and do the second interview for the day with another amusing and brilliant person, this time from the UK… and hope that your audience will not only find them fascinating too… but will forgive that some episodes are going to be delayed after this batch is finished with.

Taking last week’s audio, you check all the time stamps from your notepad and begin to edit a show together, in between mouthfuls of lunch. It’s difficult not to include all the out-takes and you promise that one day you’ll find the time to make a special show where people can hear just how weird things can get.

You check your blog and draft the first half of a post, referring to the science paper that you got earlier that day. Open and answer more emails and do a brisk look through all your RSS feeds. So many views and opinions, a continual struggle to articulate and convince people as to what is right and what is best. Many boats, same direction… maybe.

It’s around 9pm by the time you head to the bath and start reading the philosophy book you took home. Half an hour later, your concerned cat is trying to fish you out of the bath with a paw.

You take the book with you to the couch and watch some late-night movie.

11pm. You put your tango shoes in your bag, write a reminder as to what tomorrow will involve on your bedside notepad. You switch off the light.

By the way – the book of the podcast (The Scope of Skepticism) – is out!

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