Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Commodifying the Cosmos. Worlds 1 - Jane O'Halloran - Art on campus

Eye catching colourful work that sits well in a public space and rewards the patient viewer who spends time giving it a good looking over.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hours to Sunset 2013 - Shaun Tan - Art on Campus

Most of the art on campus I have featured was commissioned many years ago. It is nice to show a work that is very recent, and destined to stand the test of time (and the elements). The camera doesn't do justice to the mosaic in the dull light, and it needs to be seen from a distance, like below, followed by a closer examination of the fine detail. Recommended.

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

This is the Hundred-and-forty-seventh in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

Early last century American hard nosed detective novel. Think Maltese Falcon and Humphry Bogart. This is my first Hammett and I rather like! Reminds me of Raymond Chandler (though not in the same class) and the living of a life so different to today in every respect except for the human condition. I don't believe the main character was ever sober enough to pass a breath test. Yet the The Thin Man passes the bookshelf test.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Mural - Art on campus

This stunning mural by 1975 artist in residence Andrés Sanchez-Flores is probably overlooked by most campus dwellers as it faces away from a main thoroughfare and to take a good look is difficult if the sun is in the wrong place or a vehicle is passing.

The murals consists of two panels, small one at the top and main panel below.

Closer view of left side of main panel.

And the right side.

The top panel shown in Maya figures the year the work was completed - 1975.

Closer view of left side.


Right side.

This plaque gives all the details.

Very striking artwork.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Moominvalley in November - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-forty-sixth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

This is the last of the Moomin books and fittingly, in keeping with Jansson's fearless grasp on her creative works, the Moomins are most notable by their absence and in their absence have a strong presence throughout the story.

I can only imagine that November can be a little melancholy in the far north, fortunately there is plenty of whimsical humour and Jansson moves her stories along a pace and brings her characters to life with a sure hand.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Moominpappa at Sea - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-forty-fifth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

The Groke, sea horses in the moonlight, an absent lighthouse keeper, a Moominpappa with an existential crisis and a Moominmamma who stands by her man. Moonimtroll has his own problems and Little My just sails through any crisis looking out for number one (but also being the most sensible and pragmatic person in the story).

Surprisingly deep, this book and powerful in its emotion and imagery. Not sure this is a kids book, but Mr13 read it with the same alacrity as the others. Perhaps it just touches a nerve with an older adult and is thus a little uncomfortable. Not that I would know. Just speculating. Read it and make up your own mind.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Seedlings - Art on campus

This work by Robert Juniper is large and imposing, the height and breadth complemented by the stark rust red of the metal. However it is pleasing to the eye and the (real) native plants give a nice contrast of colour and texture.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tales from Moominvalley - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-forty-fourth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

I may have mentioned once or twice that I am not a big fan of short story collections, except when I am. This is one of those exceptions where the author has managed to hit the mark (no surprise).

Familiar characters, as you would expect in Moominvalley, appear here and there in the tales.

I particularly liked The Hemulen Who Loved Silence but they are all well constructed, easy to read and poignant. The illustrations change in style from the earlier books for some reason that I am yet to discover, but Jansson never misses her mark.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moominland Midwinter - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-forty-third in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

Moomins hibernate. Makes it awkward to set your story in the middle of winter, and what a tragedy if Jansson couldn't take advantage of the Finnish winter landscape as a backdrop for a Moomin story.

Don't fret. She finds a way, and the result is another terrific book. Perhaps my favourite. If one is allowed to have favourites. Certainly Moomintroll gets lots of air time, and Little My (just the best anti-hero).

Everything I know about a real winter with snow I learnt from this book. Perhaps one day I will see the real thing. One day.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moominsummer Madness - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-forty-second in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

Nothing like a flood to create a landscape for a story, and what a great story.

Jansson continues to nail her characters, new and old, with a dash of poignancy and a generous serve of whimsy. And did I mention the theatre? And the play?


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Moominpappa's Memoirs - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-forty-first in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

I had thought that this next book in the Moomin collection might be a bit tedious. Some tired prequel type of work. I was wrong. It was fabulous and actually tied together lots of disparate characters, united through Moominpappa's adventures when he was younger. And it is fun!


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Art as a puzzle

I walk past this art work most days. One day I thought it looked a bit odd so I took a picture but then forgot to do anything more about it. I think the walls had been painted recently.

Today I noticed that the art work looked fine and took a picture.

I think I wasn't the only one to notice the problem :)

Actually it wasn't.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Finn Family Moomintroll - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-fortieth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

One of my clear memories of Moomin was of the Hobgoblin and his hat, which is a thread woven through this next book of Moonin on my bookshelf. The transformations from the hat are magical (in more ways than one) and a delight but tempered by the thought of the Hobgoblin. I remember so clearly because I was scared and the image of the Hobgoblin on the moon has stayed with me across the decades. I also remembered the ant lion for the same reason. I hadn't remembered the Groke until I came across her but the memory came flooding back.

Tove Jansson is at the top of her craft in this rich, evocative and gripping book.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Comet in Moominland - Tove Jansson

This is the Hundred-and-thirty-ninth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

It has been unusual for me to be reading a book from my childhood that I've not read since then. I have always reread all my favourite books regardless of their genre. In this case I had somehow overlooked Tove Jansson's classic books, perhaps because they lack visibility in my hometown, but I had never forgotten them. A visit to Sweden and Finland, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Tove Jansson's birth and a walk through a retrospective of her paintings and objects and illustrations made me determined to revisit the books, which I am now doing.

I was a little nervous when I sat down to read the first book. Would I be disappointed? Would my memory have overstated the reality. I was not disappointed. I was amazed and delighted. The illustrations are an eloquent story all of their own, but the simplicity of the words and strength of the characters combine to make something amazing. Mr13 has now read this book and he said the same thing. He also said 'I really like Snufkin' and I have to agree. Many of the characters are an uncomfortable mirror but Snufkin is also inspirational in his desire for freedom and his ability to walk on stilts!

This book is a marvel and has been added to my 'must have' books on my bookshelf.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twitter in the eye of the beholder

I use Tweetbot (and I am a big fan) to read my twitter stream on the iPad. I've recently started using it on my iPhone. I particularly like the way it synchronises between the two devices (and many other things such as muting).

However I have been surprised by the different reading experience on the two devices. On the iPad one gets to see more of the twitter stream and one is more inclined to follow a link as the iPad is well designed for longer reading.

On the iPhone you get to see less of the twitter stream and while the screen resolution is very good the iPhone isn't really designed for long reads. All as one would expect.

The big surprise to me was the prominence of the tweet pictures in Tweetbot on the iPhone. They are significantly more dominant, as can be seen in my screen shots. Presumably this is a design decision.


As a reader my experience is different. My eye is caught by the picture and I am more inclined to be drawn to read or follow a link. Something to note when composing a tweet. The impact is in the eye of the beholder.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Farewell faithful companion (Nokia 3120)

Until recently I may have been the last person in the civilised world (and certainly in my household) not to possess a smartphone. However I was the proud possessor of a Nokia 3120, a candy bar style silver beauty of a phone.

It held its charge for almost two weeks. It fitted into a small zip pocket on my work trousers, weighed almost nothing and never, ever had a technical problem of any sort. I will admit that I am not a big user of telephony of any sort, preferring txt to voice and when using txt on my Nokia I never used two words when one would do. In fact I often used one word. Usually 'okay' or 'yes'. I never mastered speed texting on a phone with no predictive text and no alphanumeric keypad. It suited my parsimonious use of the language. I was contactable and that was the main thing.

However there were one or two things that I couldn't do (such as check my email, browse the web, look up a map, take a photo or use any form of social media) and they, combined with the deteriorating screen and battery life, pushed me over the edge.

I miss the old phone, constant (and usually silent) companion for over 8 years. All things pass but nostalgia is forever.



Saturday, September 13, 2014


When I celebrated a significant birthday a few years ago I asked the family to contribute towards a bench, which they kindly did. It took me many months to find the right bench but it is now one of the joys of my life.

The bench sits under cover so I can use it all year around. In the winter I will sit on it during the middle of the day. In summer I will take my breakfast out to the bench or sit whilst I barbecue in the evening. At this time of the year it is perfect for an early morning cup of coffee and little bit of writing. The sun changes position as the seasons change and I can sit on different parts of the bench accordingly. It is nice to be made to pay attention to the way each day is a little different to the day before. I can sit and watch the rain fall on the garden. I have somewhere to put my cup. Someone can come and sit next to me. There is a lot to like about a bench. One of the great inventions. Everyone should have one.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Leaking tap - afterword

When I was struggling with the leaky garden tap I was also struggling with the mains tap.
It was very difficult to turn off and in the end I replaced the old tap with a trickle still coming through the pipes.

However the brains trust encouraged me to report the difficult mains tap to the water authority, which I did using a web form. Imagine my surprise when I came home that same day and it had been replaced with a bright shiny new tap.

I was curious about how it was done. Turning off the water in the street would have to be done from down the road and would inconvenience everyone in the street and take a lot longer for the plumber. My question was answered by examining the evidence. Clearly the plumber had just taken off the tap, water gushing, replaced it with a new one. The job would have taken less than 30 seconds. Neat.



Sunday, September 07, 2014

Fixing a leaking tap

This is not an allegory.

The front garden tap was leaking. I would replace the washer. How hard could that be.

Turn off the mains.

Undo the top of the tap. First problem. The pipe was only loosely fixed to the wall and I had no firm anchor. First solution, use another wrench to hold the tap (against my knee) while I undid the top.

Take out the old washer. Second problem the washer seemed to be very unusual or it had broken in the tap.

Consult the brains trust via email. Suggestion, just get the broken white bit out. That proved too hard.

My sister suggested I just replace the whole tap. Better suggestion.

Go to big warehouse place and buy a new tap. Umm. Is it 15mm or 20mm? Didn't bring old tap (it was busy keeping the reservoir from emptying into our front garden). Make educated guess. Buy 20mm tap. Take off old tap. Realise educated guess was wrong. Back to big warehouse (conveniently open lots of hours on the weekend). Buy new tap.

Second solution, replace whole tap. Success!

Sometimes the smallest jobs can take just the most effort.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Moomintroll nanoblock

A colleague brought back a little something for me from Japan, inspired by my recent musings on Tove Jansson and her Moomin masterpieces.

For nanoblocks I needed an expert with skills developed on Lego and honed on Minecraft. And with little fingers. Mr13 was summoned.

Instructions were required.

Coming together from the ground up (looks like Minecraft in the real world!)

The completed Moomintroll.

Complete with a tail! Look closely.

Thank you Matthias.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Celebrating a Troll (Moomintroll)

This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson, the renowned Finnish artist and writer. In Europe she is a household name and her Moomin books, illustrations, comics and videos are everywhere. She is a cultural icon and her works a treasure.

I recall the Moomin books vividly from my youth but my own bookshelf at home was empty of her books. Easily rectified I thought. I would just look at a few from the public library to help decide what to buy. I was dismayed to search the public libraries for her books to find the pickings rather slim. No problem, I would just have a look on the shelf at my local bookshops. I visited bookshops, even the redoubtable Westbooks, but found they didn't have any in store. What! No demand they said but we can get them for you.

It seems that sometime since my youth Tove Jansson and her Moomin books have fallen from favour in this part of the world. When I talk about Jansson's books to colleagues and friends I find many who know nothing of them.

This is intolerable. I now have a set of her books and am reading them even as I write, and I can testify that they are good, very, very good. I am in awe of her writing and her illustration. These are books that have stood the test of time because they are quality.

It is time for some renewal. I urge you, my reader, to get some Moomin on your shelves. Your shelves at home, your shelves at work, the shelves of your local book retailer. What a great way to mark the anniversary of a national (Finnish) treasure.

You will not be disappointed.

Celebrating 100 Years http://www.tove100.com/
Tove Jansson: Love, war and the Moomins http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26529309
Suggested titles :) http://www.goodreads.com/series/50696-the-moomins

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Playing sport for fun

Mr13 plays Modcrosse on a Saturday morning.


Modcrosse is a modified, junior version of the better known Lacrosse. The club he plays with has four under 13 teams and they play against each other. They keep score and play by the rules but there are no sheep stations on offer and no ugly parent syndrome. If a team is short then a player from the other side will swap for the day. The game is basically played because the organising adults really like the sport and the kids enjoy playing. Perhaps because it isn't a mainstream sport it attracts kids and families who are a little less fanatical, I don't know, but it is very pleasant. Sport played for fun!


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

DNA Molecule Man - art on campus

Walked past this many times. Didn't want to stop and look too closely but made the effort today to find the plaque. Much older than I would have guessed. 1972. Andrew Hickson.



Monday, August 04, 2014

More art on campus

I've walked past a particular art work on campus for year but made the effort the other day to find out the artist and the title. Unfortunately it's plaque seemed to have gone missing (the campus is constantly being improved) but Yammer provided the information via the Gallery.

This is Loco Form by Lou Lambert and was acquired in 1985, so has withstood the elements (and campus improvements) quite well.


I discovered that there are more works by Lou Lambert.

This is Jacks or Better and was acquired in 1994.


Now I need to keep an eye out for other work on campus by Lou Lambert!


Friday, August 01, 2014

Seasonal Wetland

This artificial lake on campus has been reconstructed as a seasonal wetland. This means that it has water when it has rained and is dry when it is dry. Sometimes a little information helps, and since realising what the lake is mean to be I have learned to appreciate it, even when it is dry.