Got a minute?

Do you ever find yourself running out of time to get the things done that need to be done? Wish you could travel into the future or back into the past for that matter? No worries! What if I told you I could make time slow down so you had more of it or could send you back into the annals of history or forward into the unknown future? I could, you know, at least theoretically.

To quote the English astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington:

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.

Book coverAnd such is the nature of the universe that it is possible to slow time, so much so that you could age merely days in the a normal human life time. It is all to do with physics and equations like e=mc², which we all know of but know little if anything about. In a nutshell, what it tells us is that energy (e) and mass (m) i.e. things or stuff, are the basically the same, just in different forms and can be converted into one another using the speed of light squared (c²).

Albert Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity tells us that the speed of light (c) is the same for every person or observer no matter how fast they are moving but that they will witness the same events in different ways i.e. space and time become altered hence they are relative, not absolute i.e. like energy and mass, they are variations of the same thing. This means that the faster one moves relative to someone who is not moving (and by faster, I mean towards the speed of light (about 300,000 km per second – yes, per second, not per hour!), the person moving will appear to be moving very slowly and the person not moving will appear to be going faster. So, if you could move at close to the speed of light you would age more slowly than someone who was not moving at all and when you stopped moving you would find you were in the future relative to where in the future you would have been if you had stayed still.

Book coverHmmm, make sense? To go back in time it is theoretically possible by using black holes or going at the speed of light but you’ll have to read about that from Paul Davies and Stephen Hawking or build your own time machine. Of course the one thing I didn’t mention was the consequence of accelerating towards the speed of light and that is your mass increasing to the size of the universe (so, pretty big then) but of course you already knew that would happen from the description I gave you for the e=mc² equation, right?

Want to learn more? You should. Science and especially this aspect of it called cosmology, is more interesting than anything a science fiction novel could come up with and it is all real (at least theoretically).

Christchurch Town Hall turns 40

She is currently in the Red Zone, but join me in a toast to the Christchurch Town Hall – officially opened 40 years ago today – 30 September 1972.

Town Hall timeline

Old Town Hall

Christchurch had its Town Hall at the corners of Hereford-street and Cathedral Square, facing down what was then called the Sumner road (i.e., High-street at present). The Hall was 66 feet by 22 feet, with a gallery 10 feet wide. It had also two rooms united by a verandah, capable of being enclosed. A door led out from the gallery to a covered verandah over a porch that was used for a hustings.
(from Historical in the Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood, M. Mosley, 1885. Online at the NZETC New Zealand Electronic Text Centre).

On 9 October 1962, the Town Hall site chosen in Kilmore Street. Assisted by advice from visiting Professor Gordon Stephenson, the unanimously accepted proposal ended years of dispute over this choice. Other sites considered were the old public library site in Hereford Street and an area near Latimer Square. Another often debated site was Victoria Square.

Here’s a plan from 29 August 1968, architects Warren and Mahoney. See here and here.

Plan of the Town Hall

There are some wonderful aerial shots of the building’s construction on Digital NZ.

The Christchurch Town Hall was officially opened on 30 September 1972 by His Excellency The Governor General, Sir Denis Blundell, GCMG, KBE.

Christchurch Town Hall

In 1973 – herTown Halle are some happy Town Hall attenders, they have  just been to the Town Hall to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Town Hall’s several function rooms were augmented in 1997 by the opening of the Christchurch Convention Centre, which was built to adjoin the Town Hall via a glass flyover bridge over Kilmore Street.

The Town Hall itself is currently closed due to significant damage caused by the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The damage was caused by liquefaction in the substrate under the building and the related lateral spreading of the ground towards the Avon River. The building is expected to remain closed until the end of 2013 at the earliest.

The Convention Centre was demolished in April 2012 as a result of earthquake damage.

2012 Body Festival

Image: DancerChristchurch is currently hosting the 2012 Body Festival of Dance and Physical Theatre.  The programme attracts a large number of people, with a steadily increasing participation every year.  It showcases a variety of dance performances ranging from classical to contemporary, as well as other performance arts such as puppetry and circus.  The Body Festival is being held from 21st September to 14th October at various locations – check out the events calendar on its website.

One of the dance performances in the classical genre which I am particularly looking forward to is the Bharatanatyam, a highly intricate Indian dance requiring several years of practice to perfect.  The dancers, Vivek Kinra and the Mudra Dance Company, will be performing  a piece called Satvika, narrating stories of the romances and battles of Hindu gods and goddesses. In the dance, the performers truly use the body as a medium of communication,  depicting the stories’ various characteristics through subtle expressions, gestures and emotions.

If you are inspired to learn more about Bharanatyam, you can find the details about the Bharatanatyam Group of Christchurch in CINCH, our database of community information.

Christchurch City Library also holds a number of informative books on the physiological, anatomical and emotional aspects of dance, which can help you gain a general understanding of the biomechanics of movement and body-mind conditioning, and learn exercises to attain flexibility and control of movements.

Cover: Conditioning for Dance     Cover: The Anatomy of Exercise and Movement     Cover: Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology

Hornby Library

Hairy dieters & fun with duct tape: Our selectors share cool new stuff

At Christchurch City Libraries we have a team of librarians who choose the stock for the library, this includes all the books, electronic books, DVDs, CDs and magazines. As you can imagine this is a wonderful job! You may wonder how we make our decisions, how do we know what is going to be popular or what is the next ‘big thing’?  Often it is our customers who help us out by requesting titles that they have come across, but we also read a large number of reviewing journals, articles, and newspapers. In other words we are information junkies who trawl and search constantly for stock of great depth and variety for customers to enjoy.

We often come across the slightly odd, the quirky, the unusual and the downright interesting in our searches, so we are going to include a selection of some of these each month for our blog readers so that you too can appreciate what we see and enjoy every day.

The Hairy dieters : How to love food and lose weight

Famous for their love of food and seeming disregard for lean ingredients these two hairy fellows have lost 6 stone between them, and knocked EL James (50 Shades of Grey) off the UK bestseller list. Quite an accomplishment on both fronts.

Crazy-cool Duct tape projects for fashion and flair

Toilet paper has taken on new meaning with the ads on TV recently featuring fashion design students but when I first saw this title I thought it must be a joke.  But no, it would seem that duct tape has undergone a renaissance no longer just dull and brown, it comes in a variety of shades and patterns and can be used for making essential accessories.

Book coverNo Easy day

This book sent the Pentagon into a spiral as it claims that Osama Bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed by the Navy Seal mission. Attempts were made to stop the publication but although we haven’t received it yet it would seem that it will soon be on its way.

The last boys picked : Helping boys who don’t play sports survive bullies and boyhood

Bullying has been very much in the news lately, billed as “Compassionate, empowering and instructive”, this book will hopefully be useful for any parents dealing with this very painful issue.

The Last pictures

This is one of those books that jumped out at me because it seemed like such an interesting idea.  The satellites that circle our earth constantly could well be what remains after we are gone… and the artist Trevor Paglen has developed a collection of one hundred images that will be etched onto an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc and sent into orbit on board the Echostar XVI satellite in September 2012, as both a time capsule and a message to the future.

Samoan Language Week: Picturing Canterbury

Samoan Language week
Samoan Language Week.  Jan-Hai and Wiremu at Mini Linwood Library.

Shirley Library heralds the arrival of the godwits

In Christchurch, we have become accustomed to making do and that includes heralding the arrival of the kuaka (godwits).

Cover: E3 Call Home Before the February 2011 earthquake, Christ Church Cathedral rang its bells for 30 minutes to herald the arrival of the godwits. Last year St. Paul’s Church in Papanui rang its bells. This year, Shirley Library rang its hand bell to herald the arrival of these amazing birds.

These small birds  fly non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days. They leave the cold Alaskan winter for the warmth of the Avon-Heathcote estuary.  They spend the summer here and, if you go down to the Spit, you might see them feeding on sea worms, mud crabs and shellfish. They need to put on enough fat to make the return trip in autumn. Their return trip is via the Yellow Sea, China and Korea, but  the environment of these staging  grounds is being destroyed. We can do our bit to help them. While they are here, please don’t disturb them or allow dogs to chase them.

Why not read about the godwits before heading off to the estuary? The library has several books and Christchurch City Council, together with other organisations, has published a fact sheet. You might also want to check out the display at Shirley Library (including a brief video of the bell ringing).

Student Research Center: for that last minute rush

Student Research CenterDespite my advanced age I can still remember my habits as a student. I believed steadfastly in pressure. Leave it to the last moment and I will achieve more in a few hours than I would if I had a couple of days up my sleeve!  In my day we did not have electronic resources to look up at 2am in the morning so today’s students should count themselves lucky. In my day we only had the books we checked out, coffee and our prayers to any deity who would have us.

Christchurch City Libraries is here to help save you from yourselves with Student Research Center which allows you to simultaneously search all of EBSCO’s student databases. Every known subject is covered … and then some, at any time of the day or night!

We offer many resources for students aside from this glorious resource such as Student Resources in Context and Oxford Reference. Unlike Google or Wikipedia your teachers are not going to have a tantrum when you cite these resources either.  Have a look at all things electronic at the Source or alternatively have a look at  the Pulse where we gather all things of interest to those of you who still have sound minds. Now where are my teeth …

“Should I stay or should I go?”

Book coverWhen The Clash wrote Should I stay or should I go in the 1980s, they did not intend it to refer to earthquake struck cities; nevertheless it would make a fitting anthem for Christchurch in these post-quake days. There’s so much coming and going, and to quote The Clash:

If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double.

A library is the perfect place to bear witness to these great migrations of people. In a single day in any one library, you could meet up with The Stayers, The Goers and the Inbetweeners.

The many new arrivals to Christchurch come from all over the world. This week alone I have met (and this to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas): three from New Guinea, two Irish builders, one English rose. The latter had arrived a mere three hours earlier and had come straight from the airport to Central Library Peterborough to use the internet and take out books on tramping around Christchurch and Kiwi cooking. I’m grouping them with The Stayers because that’s what I hope they will do.

Some people have thought it all through and decided it is time to go – usually to The Land of Oz. Not the whole country mind, just the bits on the edge like The Sunshine Coast and Western Australia. Oz might as well not have a middle as far as most Goers are concerned; it’s all about the sunshine, the salaries and the surf. Actually, put like that it does sound great, but I do hope they’ve been told about Capital Gains Tax and the possible effect of migration on pensions. If you’ve decided to move on, the library has heaps of resources to help you, like Living and Working in Australia.

What with all this moving around, there is bound to be some fallout. And here it comes: the parents who have been left behind – The Inbetweeners – doomed to a life of both staying and going. They have lost their children and their grandchildren and instead have been gifted iPads, Smart phones and e-readers. This is a huge technological hurdle for many of them. But they are so proud of their clever off-spring who have landed lives in Australia and talk of how it is only a matter of a few hours’ flying time to meet up again. I smile, because I do that already and am now best friends with a pair of flight socks. They ask if we can help them with all their new gadgets. And, yes, we can. Several libraries around the network offer drop-in computer classes tailored specifically to this group. Just phone 03-941-7923 and our wonderful Fingertip staff will help you out. Alternatively, check our Classes and Events calendar.

But moving around isn’t about age really. Eileen Hall was 93 when she sang Should I Stay or Should I Go in the film Young@Heart. Have a listen, it’s great. And if she could get up on a stage and belt that out at 93, who is to say that The Inbetweeners wouldn’t make a great go of it in Woolloomooloo (or wherever)?

Alzheimers – The long goodbye

Book coverBy this time my mother didn’t know what a daughter was, or a mother.

A beautiful graphic novel called Tangles by Sarah Leavitt tells the story of her mum Midge, their family, and how Alzheimers came into their lives. First it just seemed like a bit of forgetfulness. But then Alzheimers began its mean attrition.

Sarah kept notes and drew pictures from the pre-diagnosis days, to her mother’s death, and beyond. The story she tells has the honesty of observation. Some details are hard to take, but are instantly recognisable to anyone who has had a loved one with Alzheimers.

It’s a bloody brave book and it broke my heart open like a fruit.

Poetry in performance this spring

I’ve signed up for emails from the Canterbury Poets Collective (CPC), and here is their latest news:

Canterbury Poets Collective (CPC) presents Poetry in Performance, 2012 Spring Season.

Open mike and guest readers. Wednesdays at 6.30 pm, audience vote for the Best Open Mic Poet.

3 October: Johanna Aitchison, Hagley Writers Institute
10 October: Elizabeth Smither, Emma Currie, Paul McGuigan
17 October:  Joan Fleming, Andy Coyle, Frankie McMillan
24 October: Louise Wallace, Sean Joyce, Marisa Cappetta
31 October: Brian Turner, Fiona Farrell, David Gregory
7 November: James McNaughton, Bernadette Hall, Rebecca Nash
14 November: Owen Marshall, Tusiata Avia, Joanna Preston
21 November: Best of the season’s open mic readers.

The venue is the very comfortable space at the CPIT Students Association (CPSA) Hall, 5 Madras Street.