Twelve years of collecting calendars

It was at the end of 2015 that I decided to collect wall calendars. Every year, I promised myself, I would choose a calendar with a theme that I’d never chosen before, and at the end of the year each calendar would be stored permanently in a drawer.

I decided I would do this for at least twelve years, at which point I would have as many calendars as there are months in a year, so it seemed a poetically significant milestone. Then I would decide whether to continue.

Well, this month I purchased my twelfth calendar — a Faeryland theme for 2017 — and so that time has come. How to commemorate it? That is something I’ve planned for a while now.

You may be familiar with the ASMR genre of videos on Youtube. These feature relaxing sounds, typically made by everyday objects, often in some kind of thematic context. For some people these sounds can trigger a pleasant tingling sensation, which is what the term ASMR denotes. But the appeal is broader than that. Many people get some kind of pleasant sensation from ASMR videos, even if it’s more subtle than a bona fide spine tingle.

Personally I don’t have a strong response, and ASMR videos are not a big part of my life. But I do binge on them from time to time, and because such a simple thing can give people such pleasure, I couldn’t not speculate about making one of my own.

Presenting my calendar collection in the form of an ASMR video seemed like a perfect match. I would leaf through the pages one by one, and people could look at the pictures while listening to the sounds that glossy paper makes as it scrapes and bends. (Also, something about the form lends itself to a journey theme, in this case a journey through time. It has to do with the way that watching a good ASMR video feels like being carried.) This idea was already forming three years ago when I published an earlier video about my collection (completely silent), but the time wasn’t right then. It was something to save for the big Twelfth Year Anniversary.

The video I made is below. To watch it, turn off the lights so your senses can focus, put your headphones on (in my experience headphones are essential for all ASMR videos, even if they’re not binaurial), and turn the volume down nice and low.

I am a complete amateur at this. I lack time, experience, equipment, and a quiet home. But if I hear from one person who really enjoys it, I will count that a success. (Sometimes the calendars slip from my control, but I feel that’s a good thing.)

[Here’s a direct link. I’ve put quite a bit of information in the video description, so I recommend watching on Youtube so you can read that. As I say there, the Rob Gonsalves painting “Phenomenon of Floating” (image for April 2015) represents how I hope to make you feel.]

Fractal poetry, and other links

This post contains what purports to be a fractal poem. It’s not a bad poem in its own right, but the link to fractal geometry was too subjective for my taste. However, it got me thinking about what else a “fractal poem” might mean, and I was up till two that morning bringing my idea into fruition. I shared the poem I came up with in the comments, but a fuller explanation appears below.

I based my poem on a simple L-system. An L-system contains a set of rules, applied iteratively, for replacing one symbol with a sequence of symbols. For example, suppose we agree to replace “A” with “ABBA” and “B”, with “BA”. Then, starting with “A”, the first iteration gives “ABBA”, the second iteration gives “ABBABABAABBA”, the third “ABBABABAABBABAABBABAABBAABBABABAABBA” and so on. The connection to fractal geometry is that if we interpret the symbols graphically (e.g. “A” for “go forward” and “B” for “turn left”), we get a squiggly line whose squiggliness depends upon the number of iterations.

I used an L-system where “A” becomes “ABBA”, “B” becomes “BCCB”, and so on. (Using numbers rather than letters, this is: “n → n, n+1, n+1, n”.) After two iterations, we have “ABBABCCBBCCBABBA”, which is the structure I used for my poem, interpreting each letter as representing a line and requiring all lines assigned the same letter to rhyme. In other words, it had to be a 16-line poem in which lines 1, 4, 13 & 16 rhyme, lines 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 12, 14 & 15 rhyme, and lines 6, 7, 10 & 11 rhyme.

Here is the result. It has, I think, an interesting aesthetic quality when read aloud.

This doggerel does not intend
To satisfy the reader’s would
For art that is remotely good;
It will not serve to meet that end,
So don’t imagine that it could.
But in its rhyming structure you
Might find, if you are able to,
A pattern to be understood
That’s relevant to trees of wood
And clouds of water vapour, too –
The applications are not few –
For it possesses fractalhood.
Look closely, and you’ll comprehend
The secret pattern, bad or good,
Which, if this text were longer, could
By iterative means extend.

After a third iteration, the structure would be a challenging ABBA BCCB BCCB ABBA BCCB CDDC CDDC BCCB BCCB CDDC CDDC BCCB ABBA BCCB BCCB ABBA. Four iterations would give you an epic poem of 256 lines. You’re welcome to give that a go, or maybe you’d prefer to write your own variation on a shorter poem like mine.

Here are some more links that I found over the Christmas holidays:

  • The development of a foetus, animated.
  • Strong Language is a new linguistics blog about swearing. Mostly. Along the way it covers a variety of topics and is worth a look.
  • A well-presented and informative video on placenames ending in -stan.
  • A curious difference between the Andromeda Galaxy and our own.
  • All of the best arguments against vaccination together on one page. (No, it’s not blank, but you’ve got the right idea.)

As for the holidays themselves, I don’t feel like writing a report, but rest assured I had an excellent time. Here are two photographs that capture some special moments.


The photo on the left shows my niece and her parents (my sister on the left, pregnant with her second child) at the Christmas table as it is being prepared. Of note are the origami mangers, complete with jelly baby and paper straw, alternating with paper trees. The brown paper bags are what we used instead of crackers.

On the right is a framed photo set showing miscellaneous moments in Elke’s life so far. This was Rebecca’s Christmas present to me, and it is now hanging above the light switch in my bedroom.

Nine calendars in my collection

I’ve blogged about my calendar collection before, but since I add a new one every year, it is worth posting an update.

This year, I decided to create a Youtube video showcasing all of the calendars in the collection so far, including the one I recently bought for 2014.

From the video description:

Since 2006, I’ve been keeping a collection of wall calendars: adding one calendar each year and always choosing a theme that I’ve never had before. This video showcases my collection so far, with nine calendars.

There is no sound, which is just as well, because half the time I’d be saying “My knees hurt!” (if less eloquently). The shaky bits toward the end of the video? Sore knees.

I think collections are significant as a form of self-expression. What someone chooses to collect, and how, can say something very deep about them as a person. That’s why sharing our collections can be so interesting.

Please, feel free to be liberal in the comments. You might comment on the collection as a whole, you might describe a collection of your own, you might nominate which calendar is your favourite (mine’s the 2008 one), or you might write something tangential inspired by a particular page. Just imagine: if I were showing you this collection over my dining table, what would you bring to the conversation?

Chairs, calendars, and the continuation of life

This is the second part of my update spanning most of October and the first part of November.

It’s been an exciting month for me, mostly because I finally got the new lounge chairs (or sofas, in more international English) that I ordered back in July. These are the first non-second-hand lounge chairs I have ever owned, and were custom made with my choice of colour and style.

(The shade is greener in life than in the picture, but it depends on the light.)

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Calendar themes

Earlier this month I ordered a 2012 wall calendar from Zazzle, which I have very recently received in the mail. It will be hung on my wall throughout the coming year, and will find a permanent home as part of my collection.

This is the seventh calendar in my collection, which I’ve been keeping since 2006. Here’s a post I wrote in 2007 when it contained just three calendars. I buy one new calendar every year, always one with a theme I’ve never had before, and after spending the year on my office wall it goes in a drawer with all the others. The “one per year” rule distinguishes it from the type of collection where people accumulate as many items as possible, and the fact that I use the calendars distinguishes it from the type of collection where people keep items in pristine condition.

There are so many calendar themes available that I can probably keep going indefinitely without running out of interesting ones.

In this post I’ll show you my entire collection to date, including photographs of the front and back covers. In the comments, I invite you to share your favourite calendar themes.

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Last time in Europe

With my trip to Germany and England coming up in August, I thought I’d post a picture of the souvineers I bought last time I was in the area, over a decade ago. Some of these have appeared on this blog before, but not all together.

Anticlockwise from the right, we have a coffee mug from Raglan Castle in Wales, a knight in armour also from Raglan Castle, a one-man-band German smoking man (incense burner), and two musical trinkets (a harp and a grand piano) also from Germany.

You can find photographs in the early pages of this blog, for example one from Austria and one from Scotland. Back then, digital cameras were only just becoming popular, and my pictures were taken with a now antiquated device that you had to take to a shop to get the film developed.

Also, back then it was winter, whereas this time it will be autumn, so the photographic opportunities will be quite different.

Octopus update

In my Perth blog post, I asked readers for help choosing a name for my new toy octopus.

I chose the name Buncho, inspired by the fruit of Bunchosia argenta (the peanut butter tree). To see why, compare this image, for example, with the octopus’s head (though the fruit is only about one inch from end to end, so the size difference is considerable). It has not escaped my attention that an octopus also has a bunch o’ legs.

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Gifts from China

I’ve had some contact with my parents (currently in China), mostly via SMS. For example, on September 20, Mum texted this message: “Enamel work factory where we had lunch. Bought a lovely red dragon. Great wall fantastic. Glad 2 sit on bus 4 next 2 hrs though. Very, very steep.

Today I received a parcel. It contained the aforementioned red dragon, as well as a pair of lions and some photographic books (the one about the Great Wall has the best pictures). I have incorporated the ornaments into my collection underneath the TV; photographs below.

[Everything below this line is an update added later.]

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A new star for Christmas

I’m now at my parents’ place for the Christmas break.

For many years we’ve had a star to put on top of the Christmas tree. It was home made — from cardboard and alfoil and soft, flexible wire (for attaching it to a branch) — but after more than a quarter of a century, it is now looking rather worn.

Last year we tried buying a new star from a shop. This was a disaster, because the star turned out to be way too heavy to be supported by the flimsy uppermost branches of a pine tree, and also lacked a practical method for being attached (the metal coil underneath counts as an impractal method). I’ve never seen a star for sale in any shop, anywhere, that could actually be placed on the top of a real Christmas tree (as opposed to one of those plastic things that have never been anywhere near soil).

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Highlights of the Fringe

At the Adelaide Fringe Festival this year I saw performances by Cecile Corbel, Ron Korb, the Lumina Vocal Ensemble, and others. I went to each performance with either a family member or a friend, and Mum also took me to a performance of Cycology by Linsey Pollak. I would recommend all those I have mentioned, and I bought a Cecile Corbel CD.

Then there was Womadelaide, where I not only heard various musical performers but also bought a number of craft items, including the eagle in the photograph below.