Monday, June 30, 2008


Images from snorkisnork

So You Want to Do a PhD?: Part I

Cutest image in the world from Golly Molly

I'm reluctant to make this blog all about doing PhDs, because that's not what it's supposed to be about, and I already alienate enough people socially with the "P-word" - I don't need to do it more online!

But I had a lot of feedback about my last post on doing a PhD, and thought I'd share a few thoughts on what prompted me to make the decision in the first place, and some of the reactions I received.

Deciding to do a PhD seemed quite an unremarkable thing to me at the time. I love studying English, I had a good idea of what I wanted to study, and the opportunity to work with a great supervisor. But for what I thought was an uncontroversial decision, I received a surprising amount of backlash from some people. (Not, of course, from my close friends.) A few of the common reactions were, "Why would you want to spend another four years at uni?", "You're too young/old to do a PhD", (I'm only 25 now!) and "Why don't you get a proper job first?" I was blown away! I wondered why so many people felt qualified to judge my decision so openly, but it seems like you just need to get used to varied reactions. Even now, a few months away from completion, I try not to say 'PhD' when I meet new people - it just elicits a lot of hostility.

So none of that should be taken as a reason not to pursue a doctorate - more just like a friendly heads-up that people can get weird about it...

But these are some things that might help you feel good about your decisions. You might want to do a PhD because:

-you have a really great idea and feel passionate about researching and writing it.

-you see a PhD as a positive next step in your career and are excited about the thought of publishing.

-you want to get into academia.

-you want a period in your life where you can think, read and write with as much freedom as possible.

-you are organised and goal-oriented. Self-motivation really helps here - you're on your own a lot.

Since beginning my candidature, I have decided (at this stage) not to go into academia. Do I regret my thesis? Not at all. It has taught me so many invaluable things which I couldn't have imagined before - and not just about my topic area. It has been an incredible experience to have to think so hard. Of course it's difficult at times, but getting through those patches has made the results even sweeter.

OK, that's enough for one post. I'd love to keep hearing your feedback - anything I should cover next?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Robot Love

Image via creativeapples

Image via JohnWGolden

Image via CarolEsther

Image via roboboy (Who is aged 7!)

Thought you could all do with a bit of robot love over the weekend.

You could also watch New Zealand's best export ever sing about their robot friends. Binary solo!

See you Monday!

Watch This Space

Diode watch from Tokyo Flash at Amazon
Evolution barcode watch from Tokyo Flash at Amazon

I don't want this site to be all about consumption, but this is more of a design issue... Ever since my old watch broke for the very last time - *sigh* - I've been thinking of how to replace it.

I've been looking for months. Actually, that's not even true - I've been without a watch for months, and have occasionally glanced at the odd watch website or shop before getting disheartened at the lack of variety and originality. I know what I like - sleek, silver, minimalist and a little bit quirky - you would think this isn't an impossible design brief?

I found these Tokyo Flash watches on Amazon (with really average customer reviews) - they are closer to what I was thinking, and I feel like I could totally rock the Diode model (at top) but it would still be a 'party' watch not a 'proper' watch, and my practical self says more than one watch is a bit decadent/ridiculous. (But my party self says, buy the watch!)

By the way, these watches are all made for men. Who knows why the ones for women are so ugly.

I Heart Street Art

Image via the Wooster Collective

Following on from my last post about installations, I am all about the perpetration of very cool street art. Whether it's stencil art or graffiti from the Wooster Collective, or just generally interesting installations, I always try and photograph images before they're painted over or taken down.

But I am very excited by CutUp. Here, vigilante paper artists take down billboard posters, cut them up and then re-paste them up in new images. They look incredible! (And what's not to love about the crafty use of 'vigilante'?)

Image via CutUp

Image from Scott Burnham

But some of my favourites have to be the knit-fiti or craft bombing started by Chicago-based Knitta. Ahh, I really need to learn to knit. This would be so much fun.

Image from Stick and Move

Image from Vox

Anyone interested in some crafty vigilante fun?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shiny, Happy People

Images from Erin Tyner

Images from Slinkachu

I have long been obsessed by the idea of taking photos of small plastic people, having put them in real looking environments. During a recent holiday up the coast, the Pal and I went scouting along rocks at the beach, taking photos of ‘landscapes’, imagining small people climbing, hiding, and swimming in rock pools.

Like most of my odd obsessions, I have no idea where this comes from, but am heartened that I am not alone.

Erin Tyner makes stunning prints (and sells them in her etsy store!) and I adore trawling through her blog seeing her images and reading the song quotes she puts with each. Magical stuff.

And then today, I happily discovered Slinkachu via Black*Eiffel who has recently released a book called Little People in the City - The street art of Slinkachu. This is just the best thing ever – he makes real installations of little people, and leaves them in the city! Ahhh…it’s taken my whole obsession to a new level. A Times review said, 'Oddly enough, even when you know they are just hand-painted figurines, you can't help but feel that their plights convey something of our own fears about being lost and vulnerable in a big, bad city'.

This has given me lots of ideas about some public installations I've been thinking about for a while...stay tuned!

Postcards in All Forms

Image via bridgepix

Image via postsecret

I do love to send and receive mail. I think there's nothing nicer than getting a handwritten letter from someone, and it feels so much more intimate than an email or text message - it's almost a confessional mode for writing. I am also not blind to the happy coincidence of my desire to write to people and my ever-growing stationery collection /obsession.

Other people have got on board with this as well. PostSecret is a blog where you can send a secret on a postcard anonymously (they have also published a range of books which are fantastic).

I've also just discovered this amazing service called PostCrossing. The goal of the project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world. You simply sign up (it's free) and get a code. You write to that address including the code, and then sit back and wait for a surprise postcard to arrive! I'm very excited about this, and can't wait to get my code...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Porn

Welcome people who were expecting something different from that title... sneaky tactic to show you what I think are just fabulous ways to hold your books around the house...

Thank goodness there's a whole blog devoted to the houses of books - bookcases, bookshelves and more!

You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth...

Images via gizmodo

...and wrapped them around my neck in a cute and arty fashion. OK, so not the right words to that song, but oh jeepers am I in love with these hot HOT scarves kindly referred to me by the Pal, who knows me so well.

Cut by lasers and made with microfibre suede, I think I may have found my dream accessory of 2008. Or June 2008. Or just of this week, perhaps. Mine's in the mail!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Eye Candy

These images are photo plates from Owen Jones' 1853 classic book, "The Grammar of Ornament".


Talented Friends Tuesday V

Images from Fotolog

So many friends, so few Tuesdays*...

This week I'm very excited to present Nick, who is not only a fabulous artist, but all-round lovely guy, too. As you can tell from his pictures, he also likes robots, which of course only adds to his appeal.

Nick has returned, after a brief Australian sojourn, to his native Manchester, but thanks to the clever robots inside the internet, he is easy to track down. You can find Nick at his fotolog and Stencil Revolution and also at Flickr.

*To recap, for those of you who have just joined us, every Tuesday I do a small profile on a talented person I know. Please feel free to use this meme on your own blog and put a link to mine. Thanks!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tea Light Lovely

Aren't these just the cutest things? Just thought you might want some tea-cup love. Might go and make myself a hot cup of tea right now...

In Memoriam

Image from McGrath Foundation

I was deeply saddened to hear of Jane McGrath's passing over the weekend. For readers outside of Australia, Jane was the wife of Glenn McGrath - a well-known and talented cricketer, and had dealt with cancer for eleven years.

While not a big cricket fan myself, Jane and her husband Glenn had always struck me as good people, and certainly the work they have done for cancer with their foundation is exceptional.

In a touching move, the Australian cricket team is going to wear pink ribbons and have pink grips on their bats on their match today in the West Indies to honour Jane.

In this transcript from Enough Rope, I thought about these very simple words of Jane's:
"...just to wake up in the morning - it doesn't matter if it's raining or the sun's shining. It really doesn't matter, 'cause every day's a great day, you know? And it' really is the simple things in life that count, and a lot of those things, people don't even think about. They're too busy rushing to get into the city or rushing to work or rushing to get the children ready for something. And they don't stop to smell the roses, I suppose. And we do."
My thoughts are with the McGrath family and friends this week especially. I'm going to give my loved ones extra cuddles today.

How I Would Dress If I Were a Spy

Images from Derek Lam via A Cup of Jo

I have oft-pondered whether I would make a good spy. At the moment, I err towards thinking I'd be horrendous. I hate keeping secrets, I don't think I'd be very good at answering to another name, and I have distinctive hair. (Sydney Bristow of Alias always seems to change hers with each job. This may not be an accurate yardstick for whether I'd be a good spy, but let's face it, it's my main research source.)

But I can't help but to think if I was wearing some of these Derek Lam goodies, I would be the best. Spy. Ever.

There are probably other ingredients I'd have to work on, (see above re: secret-keeping) but I'd be willing to give it a go if someone would kit me out in these lovelies.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rob Ryan Profile

After such a smug "I'm so clever and I work a lot post" yesterday (gulp!) I thought I'd change tack and talk about one of my favourite ever artists, Rob Ryan.

Rob is a paper-cut artist and makes the most beautifully romantic images and poems from cutting paper. They are truly a delicious blend of the whimsical and child-like, while being so heart-stoppingly lovely at the same time. I bought two of his tiles from his shop some time ago, and I just can't stop admiring them.

For more Mr Rob swoon, have a look at his blog, real-life shop and book here!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting Things Done

Image via ffffound

Recently, a lot of people have been asking me whether I think I am on track to finish my PhD by the end of August. And to be quite honest, it’s hard to say. I’ve never finished a PhD before, so I don’t really know what I’m in for. For me, it was quite helpful for other people to know about my deadline, so that I had some impetus to keep working!

Here are some other things that have helped me out.

1. I am a strong believer in Parkinson’s Law, which states that tasks usually expand or contract to the amount of time you have to do them in. So if you allowed yourself a year to write an essay, you’d probably take a year. But if you allowed yourself two weeks to do the same essay, you might well get it done. Maybe. So I give myself pretty ambitious deadlines all the time and see what I get done in that time. However, sometimes Hofstadter's Law kicks in and then I have to start again.

2. Friends often make the comment that ‘you’re so organised’ as if organisation is contagious or should be avoided. I do love to make lists and find that they actually calm me down. If I can break everything down into small tasks, it all seems much more manageable. Putting "1. Write PhD" is entirely unhelpful as it doesn't reference what to start with. Some people are big fans of GTD or David Allen's Getting Things Done book. I think it's a really helpful guide, but that you can get a bit caught up in organising the processes and not spend enough time actually getting through your tasks. You only have to look at the amount of GTD-related site and life hacks where people meticulously document their filing systems or notebooks. Helpful, but get back to work!

3. Work out when you want the project finished by (for me, this was the end of August) and then write a week by week timetable working backwards. So even if I am working on Chapter One instead of Chapter Two this week, I at least know I have designated a week for each chapter.

4. It's only a thesis. I think "PhD" puts a lot of people off, but realistically I'm only writing an essay - it's just a lot longer than I've written before. Keeping things in perspective can be really hard, but at the end of the day I think it's really important. That being said, I told a friend of mine who has since completed her PhD that when I travelled in Europe last, I felt really humbled, and thought "If you could build a cathedral 400 years ago, I can surely write a thesis." She didn't miss a beat, and shot back with, "I would have thought, "Yeah, you built a cathedral...but can you write a PhD?!!"

5. Avoid books, websites and blogs on how to finish a PhD or other project. I think they are scaremongering procrastinators who would be probably better off getting to work than writing ab0ut how to get to work. Egads I'm opinionated this morning!

Ahem, so that's the extent of my wisdom - off to work now...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Shop Lovelies

I've finally gotten around to updating my scrapbooking packs of papers and the like. These new ones are also full of stickers, wooden pegs, ribbons, beads and buttons. Kit and kaboodle. Now hundreds are waiting to go to good homes! Well not hundreds, but certainly about 40+...

They are available on my June Bug sale in the shop now - mention that you read my blog in the checkout and you will get 20% off the price.


Door Magic

Time to unveil another obsession of mine - taking pictures of doors. It's something I mainly do when I go travelling, because sadly Sydney doesn't seem to have an especially diverse range of doorways. Trust me, I've looked!

I'm always amazed at the love and care put into the older doors - especially those in parts of Europe. I love to wonder about how many people have walked through them over the years. What were they doing? Who were they with?

I have over 200 photographs of doors I've taken from all over the world, and it's one of my favourite collections. It does make me a super-annoying travel companion (Wait! Here's another good one! I'll catch up with you in a minute!) but I like to think it's worth it in the end.

Is there something you enjoy photographing on your travels?