Saturday, February 28, 2009

Someone please give me an invite to FFFFOUND!?

Just found this cool site... you save/accumulate images that you like and the website generates recommended images for you. I can browse it without joining, but would need to be a member in order to save images. Please invite me, someone? If you invite me, I will send you a cupcake in the mail. Failing that, I will draw a picture for you of anything you please.

Anyway, here are some cool images that've caught my eye so far:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Niall Ferguson on Lateline - The Global Financial Crisis for Idiots - Part 2

Last night on Lateline there was an interview with financial historian, Niall Ferguson. Times like these certainly benefit from some historical perspective; if you really want to understand what's going on, watching this will help!

Here's the link to the Lateline website, the video is there on the front page. You can also see the transcript here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Outfit for work

Karen's outfit

I never thought I could wear open-toed shoes that weren't thongs, but times have certainly changed. My experiences of being forced to wear jesus-style sandals in primary school completely put me off the open-toed style for many years. I stubbornly wore socks and closed-in-shoes, summer after summer up until this point. I never thought it would come to this;... but there's only so long you can avoid this 'fashion' item when you live somewhere with 38-degree daytime temperature peaks.

So on this day, I put the sandals on and crouched, waiting for the sky to fall. I counted to ten, and ... nothing. The sky didn't fall, I was still alive. I went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and saw myself looking back- completely normal and unharmed. I can now wear sandals almost everyday with only a minimal level of psychological discomfort. You know, I'm 25 years old now, and this is one indication that the logic of life is slowly starting to set in. Eventually I suppose this logic will progress to wearing bumbags, the sock and sandal combo, plus eye-glasses neck strap whilst walking amongst birds at 5:30am.

One small step for a sandal, one giant leap for Karenkind.

Learning Japanese through music: "Folklore" by Clammbon

As a big fan of Japan, naturally I really want to like Japanese music. Listening to music is a good way to learn more about the language and culture of a country, so it's been one of my recent objectives to find more Japanese bands to listen to. In the past I've been glad at least to catch onto Cibo Matto, Shonen Knife, Kahimi Karie, Pizzicato Five and a few others. The problem is that when I try and search for more Japanese bands/music, the songs that I find seem to be lacking something. Many Japanese bands have earnt some reputation for being good at mimicking other styles, but music needs more than technical accuracy to be good. What is it?

Anyway, here's a particular song that caught my ear. At first I didn't like it, but it's since grown on me like a moss. I've decided to listen to it lots of times so my ear will acquire some more familiarity with the vocabulary (not that the lyrics are common-language or anything), but some familiarity is better than none. The lead singer Ikuko Harada, is also very cute and that's a bonus.

Without further adieu, here's "Folklore" by Clammbon:

Lyrics in English:

The night that the fierce typhoon passed, I was looking down on the city from the top of a tall building
The wind still a little erratic, tearing at the edge of its departure
The lights of the houses nearby shimmered like through searing air
I've never witnessed a scene like, though I was used to seeing it

Something is going to change, that's how I felt, in a little while
It disappears quietly, June, number 6, in a little while, in a little while

I can hear the low anouncement of the final train more clearly than usual
Like always, I just keep on staring blankly at the sky
My eyelids a little heavy, I close my eyes
From far away I hear your voice, I'd better get going

I've cleared a period of low pressure, that's how I felt, in a little while
My feeling suddenly becomes lighter, that's how I feel, in a little while, in a little while

Something is going to change, that's how I felt, in a little while
It disappears quietly, June, number 6, in a little while, in a little while
By the time I notice, the hour hand is pointing to 2 o'clock, in a little while
My feeling suddenly becomes lighter, that's how I feel, in a little while, in a little while

The night that the fierce typhoon passed, I was looking down on the city from the top of a tall building
I'm still a little erratic, tearing at the edge of its departure

La la la.....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Global Financial Crisis for Idiots - part 1

If you are anything like me, you probably don't have much background in economics and financial theories. I was never really interested in this topic at school and I basically failed economics in upper high-school. In this subject area, I am myself, an idiot. However, the topic is both just so crucial and also, surprisingly interesting once you can tease out information from the enormous intimidating mess of abstract concepts and corporate disinformation. As the world falls into the economic crisis, it's about time we all took a bit of control over our own knowledge of money and the economy.

I thought that this video, Money as Debt would be a good start! Here's the write-up from the producer of the video, Paul Grignon. This guy is immensely interesting.


"Born in Toronto, Canada in 1948, I first became suspicious of our money system when I was in high school in Ottawa. We were studying logarithmic functions such as interest and it struck me that a money system in which money accrues interest at every turn could only function with exponential growth of the money supply. Something did not make sense to me. I wasn’t sure what it was but I had a strong feeling that banking was a scam designed to benefit bankers at the expense of everyone else. I vowed never to get into debt to bankers.

As fortune would have it I got to (mostly) fulfill that vow. As a hitchhiking, backpacking young adult I was led to Gabriola, a forested coastal island off British Columbia, Canada where the building code was not yet in effect. My partner and I were able to take up residence in a tent, then a shack and as the years went by, and our four children arrived, our primitive shelter without water or power gradually evolved into a modest but comfortable owner-built paid-for home. This was achieved on a sporadic income that would never have been sufficient to buy a home had we gone the conventional mortgage route.

For several years, I made my living in the logging industry as a seasonal tree planter until injury forced me off the slopes. Taking whatever jobs I could get at first, I eventually established myself in my longtime ambition to be a landscape painter and visual artist. (

In 1997, as a result of an inheritance, I was able to realize another long-held ambition. I set myself up as a digital video maker and produced several professional video projects.

In 2002 I was commissioned to produce a video for United Financial Consumers (, a small organization dedicated to defending credit customers from the predatory practices of banks. I taped a 5-hour seminar explaining an innovative strategy for reclaiming the equity banks defraud us out of when we sign for a so-called “loan”. I prefaced this rather abstruse lecture material by telling “The Goldsmith’s Tale” in animation form. Entitled “Money as Debt”, it was my first full animation project.

Other monetary reformers saw this original “Money as Debt” cartoon and approached me about using my animation as part of an information package being sent to municipal politicians, urging municipalities to demand interest-free loans from our publicly owned Canadian central bank, the Bank of Canada.

The Canadian Action Party, a federal political party devoted to monetary reform posted it on their website.

Two gentlemen from the American Monetary Institute in the USA also saw the animation. One described my cartoon as “far and away the best explanation of fractional reserve banking” he had ever seen. They requested that they be able to use it for their educational purposes as well.

I informed them that I was in the process of writing a much-expanded script. I knew there was a lot more to explain and felt certain that an animated cartoon was the best way to overcome the eyes-glazed-over reaction one often encounters when trying to interest people in this subject. I asked them if they could wait a few months until I had finished the project to my satisfaction.

They agreed to wait and to assist me. Their avid interest in the project spurred me on. I worked day and night (12 -20 hours per day) for 6 months to complete the movie.

My new US contacts were able to provide me with very valuable information and feedback on my script. One of them, a senior member of the Institute, had learned this information directly from US Congressman Wright Patman, who was Chair of the House Banking and Currency Committee for 12 years.

With the help of my partner Tsiporah and my neighbour and voiceover man, Bob Bossin, the final script was edited and rewritten numerous times. Money as Debt is now a colourful, fast-moving 47- minute animated short feature that explores the basic concepts of money creation in words and pictures that are not only clear but also enjoyable. It is intended for all audiences, including elementary school children. My particular hope is that it will convince environmental, social justice and electoral reform advocates that monetary reform is essential to the goals they hope to accomplish.

Money created as interest-bearing bank credit is a magic trick, a fraud - now 3 centuries old; one that very few people have seen through despite, or rather because of, its utter simplicity.

It is my intention to make this mysterious debt-money system comprehensible to everyone. It is also my intention to foster sufficient understanding of the problems with this money system that citizens will be motivated to join the monetary reform movement and/or create local alternatives to the global monetary system - a system in which most of the productive people of the world are collectively chained to an ever-increasing and perpetually unpayable debt.

This is a system designed for elite control of the people by those who have given themselves the privilege of creating money. It is also, I believe, a system that is designed for catastrophe. As the movie explains, there can be no sustainable civilization without a sustainable money system." - Paul Grignon


The video is about 45 minutes long, so make sure you have enough time and possibly a nice cup of tea.

Happiness according to me

Happiness #1


- macbook with extra monitor
- episodes of Absolute Boyfriend / Zettai Kareshi / 絶対彼氏.
- asian style dinner with miso soup, tofu greens, rice and korean pickled veg

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vegan dinner in 20 minutes

I pretty much hate cooking in summer, but if I don't make and eat something then I am likely to starve. So I have become interested in making the quickest meals possible. This can be hard sometimes when you are a vegaquarian with a food intolerance to wheat. We don't even eat fish at home because I can't be bothered buying or learning how to actually cook it properly. So apart from a bit of cheese, milk, fish stock and oyster sauce, many of the meals we end up eating are practically vegan.

Dinner, Wednesday 11th Feb 09

Here is an extremely quick and random dinner that I threw together in 20 minutes last night. On the left is a red cabbage salad. Just chop up half a red cabbage into small bits and mix it with two tins of beetroot (chopped), plus chopped parsley. This takes like, two minutes and tastes pretty good. The dish on the right was a random invention: I took a tin of lentils, rinsed the lentils and then put them in a foiled metal tray with some oil and put them under the grill for about 10 minutes. On the stove, I quickly fried some chopped cauliflower. Then I threw the lentils into the pan, along with some chopped cherry tomatoes, chilli powder, turmeric and tomato paste. That's all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feeling as French as possible in Edgewater WA

Last night, a friend had a most excellent idea of celebrating his birthday French-style. This included baguettes, camembert, four different vegetarian french dishes, wine, champagne and Jean Luc Godard.

We didn't have enough time to watch any features, so we just watched two short films that had been included as extras on his DVDs.

The first film we watched was All the Boys Are Called Patrick, a cute 20 minute film about a Parisian casanova who chats up two room-mates on the same day. This film, written by Éric Rohmer and directed by Godard, is so snappily perfect that it's hard to believe that it was made in 1957. He uses several experimental film techniques that were revolutionary for his time, like cutaways and playing with film speed. This film also was shot in the informal observational style that was soon to become iconic of Godard. This style was most likely influenced by Godard's tertiary study of Ethnology, "the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity."

Heavily influenced also by Jean Rouch, the father of Cinema Verite / Cinema Truth, Godard observed his subjects in a sort of light anthropological style; retaining the randomness and inconsequentiality of every day conversation without any overbearing cloak of dramatic pretense. This has led some people to criticise his films for their superficiality, but as this short film demonstrates, there are other truths to be found in the random banter that fills most of our lives. The girls are pretty cute too.

Watch the film; you will not be disappointed! I truly believe that no cooler film was made in 1957.

We also watched the 1958 short, Une histoire d'eau / A Story of Water which was also very fun but I couldn't find it on youtube.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

St Jerome's Laneway Festival - Friday Feb 6th

Still Flyin @ St Jerome's Laneway Festival

Since hitting my mid-twenties, I have been rather reluctant to go along to any big music festivals. These days I prefer smaller gigs, or staying at home with the stereo and a cup of tea. So I surprised myself by deciding to go along to the Perth version of the Laneway festival.

For the past few years I haven't really been keeping an eye on bands and new music. So without really knowing much about many of the bands on the line-up, I settled for some old favourites; Stereolab, Fourtet and locals The Bank Holidays. I was pretty happy to be seeing Stereolab as they were a particularly iconic band from my youth. The Bank Holidays were comfortable, like wandering through a field of daisies towards a croquet field. Fourtet was also pretty good but I was getting pretty cold by that time.

Oh, and the picture that I've featured at the top is of Still Flyin, a San Franciscan super-band with members from The Aislers Set, Ladybug Transistor, Dear Nora, Masters of the Hemisphere, Je Suis France, Bright Lights, and Track Star. Random stage dancing, ample amounts of novelty boxer shorts, and the wearing of a pig-faced soft-toy on the head all ensured a most entertaining set.

Speaking of entertainment, one of the more amusing moments on the night came on the walk back along James Street to Adam's car. We were passing by the window of "New York Tailors" (the shop that has all the rock & roll belt buckles etc in the window)=

new york tailors

Lo and behold, as we were passing, I spotted a RAT walking around throughout the belt buckles, in the window of the shop! I quickly pulled out my camera to take a shot, but by that time it had leapt onto the floor. Here's the rat running away:


I think it was Adam who said that perhaps, Ratatouille-style, this little rat was an aspiring window dresser, who, in order to avoid detection, had to sneak out at night to develop his passion. For this reason, I implore to the shop-owners of New York Tailors to support this little rat in his ambitions by offering him a retail traineeship.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Attempt at Thai cooking 7/10

Thai Salad & Stir fry dinner

On the left is a kind of Thai salad made of up of: dragonfruit, orange, beansprouts, sunflower sprouts, coriander and chilli.On the right is a kind of Thai stir fry made up of capsicum, cauliflower, chilli and sweet chilli sauce. It all tasted okay and I think I'd give myself a 7/10. Not extremely delicious but highly edible. The creation of this meal however, was fraught with disaster and chilli-related physical pains.

I came at the chillis with a kind of innocent enthusiasm. C had recently been talking about the anti-cancer effects of capsaicins, so I kind of went a little mad with the chopping and throwing off mini chilli-bits into both dishes. All was well for about half an hour after I cooked and ate dinner,.. but about 45 minutes later, my hands started to burn like nothing else.

I washed my hands in water, in soap, in dishwashing liquid but the burning persisted. We looked up remedies online; I rinsed my hands in milk, in vinegar, in alcohol, rubbed them with an onion - everything gave temporary relief of about 10 minutes but after that the burning kept returning. Man it killed so bad, and the best I could do was sit still on the couch nursing my hands with a bag of frozen peas.

C kept checking on the internet and found various comments from other people who had burned their hands with chillis. Apparently the burning sensation was to last between 8-10 hours!. I had prepared dinner at 7, so I guessed that the sensation wouldn't subside until 3-5am. Aarghhh! There was so much heat in my hands, as I sat there staring at them, I honestly would not have been surprised if small flames had of leapt out of them, they were that hot.

Eventually out of desperation, we went to Mt Lawley chemist and I tried to explain my situation to the clerk. Unfortunately the clerk didn't really seem that sympathetic and kind of looked at me like I was half mad. Could he not interpret that I was talking figuratively rather than literally when I spoke of flame bursts erupting from my palms? Most unhelpfully he had nil suggestions, so I settled on an anaesthetic antibacterial skin-spray and a box of codeine enhanced painkillers.

Back at home, the skin-spray only gave 10 minutes of relief so around 1am I resorted to the last, and ultimately most successful option of dosing my self up with the opioid analgesics. I was happily knocked out for the rest of the night and awoke in the morning so very very happy to find that my palms were back to normal.

Moral of the story: Love the chilli, but use protection. Does this mean that I have to buy latex gloves from the supermarket if I want to chop chillis again? That would be an embarrassing item to purchase. Possibly even more embarrassing than female sanitary hygeine items. Actually I am not embarrassed to buy those anymore, but latex gloves,... they imply a whole plethora of possibly icky and unusual private practices. When purchasing the gloves I would have to mention to the clerk, "oh, I'm chopping chillis," but the excuse would probably sound like a lie.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wedding portrait commission

Wedding portrait
Here's a wedding portrait done for a friend of a friend. They are not Japanese, but really into the culture.

I guess I'm doing commissions now! I'm open to anything; weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations etc.

I also particularly specialise in cute personal pictures relating to foreign cultures/languages and/or subcultures; punk, indie, retro etc.

The cost would depend on the size of the picture and the time spent on it, but as I'm just starting out, I think my prices are currently pretty reasonable! Enquire within for more details!