Monthly Archives: September 2007



i attended an origami workshop last week. I am now a kusudama (くすだま) master. kusudama translates into english as ‘medicine ball’, and kusudama origami is the folding of paper into a sphere. it’s pretty amazing what can be done. the image i have posted is not mine – it’s far too intricate and beautiful for me right now, but i will get there.

it’s school holidays this week and I’m helping the children’s librarian to run an origami workshop. my kusudama/origami skills will be very handy and i will be able to impress the kids with my paper folding credentials (1. lived in japan origin of origami; 2. attended 2 hr workshop – don’t scoff thats 2 hours more than most people; 3. have been to hiroshima home of the paper crane). see – librarians can do so much more than put books on shelves and collect overdue fines.



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shanghai dumpling challenge: round one

i shouldnt be talking about food on this site because it doesnt sit well with my anti-foodie ethos. however the dumpling challenge was more about food consumption in quantity, rather than quality.

the challenge was to, in Camy Shangai Dumpling House chinatown (note use of capitals = respect), eat dumplings.  as many as humanly possible, with the guidelines being non dumplings such as rice and vegetables not acceptable, and if you don’t think you are up for the challenge, don’t come.

so between 8 people we ate 160 dumplings at a cost of $99.10 in total. on average each member of the group ate 20 dumplings.  however I feel that some members of the group compensated for others. i know for sure that I ate more than 20.

round two of this challenge will be to eat over 20 dumplings per challenger, with the requirement that each member keeps a tally of his or her count so I will have something more concrete to base my accusations of under performance on, rather than saying stuff like “you were on the phone for about 10 minutes, that’s cheating.”  

round one goes to the asians, with a notable mention to the german, who was a standout in his loose ethnic grouping.  anyone welcome to future rounds.

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“Tell me about being a librarian”

Then she said, more conversationally, more conventionally, “Tell me about being a librarian.”

I said, … It’s a sort of communism, without ideology or Marx or any of that bullshit. We’re in the business of giving away knowledge. For free. Come in, please come in, and take some knowledge for free, no limit, keep going, gorge on it if you want, no, it’s not a trick, a come on…. Librarians don’t have a lot of status and we don’t make a lot of money, more than poets, but not so much, say, as your more successful panhandlers, so our ideals are important to us and the love of books and the love of knowledge and the love of truth and free information and letting people discover things for themselves and let them, oh, read romance novels or detective novels, whatever they want, and giving poor people internet access.

– The Librarian, by Larry Beinhart

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picture books: the bad and the good

in the past two weeks I have stepped out of my literary comfort zone and read two picture books: one completely and utterly shit, the other completely and utterly amazing.

the bad first: an english version of a japanese manga comic – it was so bad i cant remember the name. something about ‘the last people from this happy planet’. ie they even fucked up the translation, it wasnt natural english.  i read this graphic novel on the tram on the way to my ikebana class, and had to check several times that people weren’t reading over my shoulder as there were some love scenes which were a bit pornographic. ive seen men read far more risque on trains in japan, but still, i felt it was inappropriate train reading. it was about this girl who somehow mutated into a killing machine and she had limited lifespan to complete her journey. i found myself wishing she’d die early so the story would end.

the good: shaun tan is an illustrator from Western Australia and his book The Arrival is one of the most uplifiting stories ive read in a while.  it deservedly won the NSW premier’s book of the year this year. the arrival tells, in wonderfully detailed black and white pictures, the story of the universal immigrant who flees his or her homeland due to war or personal circumstances, to begin life in a new country. it’s something that everyone should read and enjoy – you can read it in 30 min or 3 hours depending on your obeservation levels.

the picture ive posted is of a mural, titled The Tea Party, that shaun tan did for the children’s section of the subiaco public libray in WA.  looks amazing –  i’d love to see something like this in the children’s section of our library.

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library mudflap girl


 This is the best library marketing I have seen in a long time. Come to think of it, it is the only effective [at least in attracting attention to the service, who knows if its increasing membership] library marketing I have seen in a long time since i actually can’t think of any other campaigns. 

‘shock value’ images which subvert the dominant meaning, such as this excellent mudflap girl, are pretty much the only way to catch our attention nowadays, which is being pulled in a multitude of ways toward the many different activities in our lives.

there’s more about the campaign here, and other images such as billboard images. from the looks of it, an expensive campaign, but if youve go the funds, why not?


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vic specials newsletter: # 3 out now

i finally got my shit together to get the third edition of the victorian special libraries newsletter out. I feel that my greatest achievement in the library world, to date, has been to be able to mention shane warne in a (semi) legitimate context on the cover of a libraries newsletter.

what does warnie have to do with libraries? you will have to read it (the first page at least) to find out.


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the chin family


i don’t cook. in the way that i don’t sing karaoke, ever, even in japan. however this does not stop me from thinking that I can or will cook one day.

i came across this “cool stuff that I need” in the blogosphere the other day. hip design company Alessi has recently collaborated with the national palace museum of taiwan to produce some kitchen implements which represent imperial chinese figures.

if i owned some of these items i could be convinced to actually use cookbooks for their recipes, not just looking at the nice pictures. i have had some new library chinese cookbooks out for about a month and they just sit on my coffee table. i randomly flick through the pages and look at the dumplings.

you can buy them from amazon.

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